Thomas Jefferson’s Wagner excels at Baldwin Invitational

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Friday, May 11, 2018 | 11:03 PM


Thomas Jefferson sophomore Molly Wagner continues to impress.

Wagner was a double medalist in two feature events at the 45th annual Baldwin Invitational held May 4 at Baldwin Stadium.

The TJ speedster, who is a three-sport athlete, placed fourth in the girls 200-meter dash in 26.3 seconds, and finished sixth in the 100 in 12.72.

“Molly ran her best time of the season in the 100 prelims,” said Bill Paull, who shares the TJ coaching duties with Kevin Gennaula. “Every time Molly runs against the best in her events, she seems to run her best which is what we are looking for at this point of the season. She was impressively strong in the 100 and 200 finals given the weather conditions.

“She is continuing to get better every week, and I am looking forward to seeing her compete in the WPIAL championships.”

Wagner qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA championships in the 100 and 200 last year.

Thomas Jefferson's only other medalist at the Baldwin invite was Wagner's older brother Zach, who secured fifth place in the boys 100-meter dash with a time of 11.4.

Zach Wagner is the defending WPIAL champion in Class AAA in the boys 200-meter dash. He was a double medalist (100, 200) at last year's WPIAL finals.

“Zach was coming of an injury. We will be working with him in preparation for WPIALs, getting him back to 100 percent,” Paull said. “Zach had a strong performance (at Baldwin) even though he is only about 75 percent right. His block work has never been better, and he dominated the first 100 meters of his 200 prelims. But it was there that we could tell he was still feeling some pain.

“The WPIAL is loaded with talent in the 100 this year, which made me pleased to see Zach hold his own running half-injured and still finding his way on the podium.”

Another top performance at Baldwin was turned in by TJ sophomore Lydia Shaw, who landed in the top 20 in both the girls 800 and 1,600 events.

“Lydia battled through the afternoon's fast heat of the 1,600, which endured extreme winds and rain about two laps in,” Paull said. “Lydia is another one of our young athletes who continues to drop her times in whatever event she competes. I know with her determination she will be at the top of the WPIAL in the near future.”

There is a host of young athletes in the TJ track and field program this season; many were able to participate in the day-long invitational, which annually serves as a prelude to the WPIAL championships.

“For many of our athletes, this was their first experience at a large invitational. I could tell some of them were additionally nervous,” Paull said. “It was an extremely long day for a number of our athletes who competed in the afternoon sessions of the faster heats. I try to remind them that it is pertinent for them to stay off their feet, in the shade, and to fuel their bodies properly throughout the day in order to maintain their competitiveness later in the evening.

“Unfortunately, all of our evening competitors experienced a major storm cell that swept through (the stadium), which limited some of their performances, and at that time we were competing for spots on the podium.”

Along with Wagner, who also competed in the 200, TJ's boys team was represented at the meet by freshman Alex Folino (100), junior Jordan Murga (200, 400), freshman Luke Pletz (200, 400), senior Seth Roberston (800), freshmen Luke Thurner (800), Gabriel Snyder (1,600, 3,200), Kaiden Smith (1,600) and Nick Majetic (long jump, triple jump), seniors Eli Minda (long jump, triple jump), Kevin Peters, (discus) and Micaiah O'Brien (discus, javelin), freshman Ben Sheffo (javelin) and sophomore Brandon Sluk (shot put).

Raelin Krueger, a junior, also competed for the girls team in the discus and javelin.

Krueger was a WPIAL finalist in the javelin event last year.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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