Aliquippa to compete at state track meet with teammate, critically injured in shooting, in thoughts

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Thursday, May 27, 2021 | 7:50 PM


Aliquippa’s track team arrived Thursday in Shippensburg, a day ahead of the state championships, but the Quips made the trip with one fewer sprinter than they’d hoped.

Antonyo Anderson wasn’t with them, yet his teammates were thinking about him, coaches Sherman McBride and Vashawn Patrick said. The 16-year-old was shot two days earlier while driving in Aliquippa, according to police, and flown to UPMC Presbyterian.

At the time, Anderson, who friends call “Sonny,” was in critical but stable condition.

“First and foremost, our team, his friends and our coaches, we just want to send our sympathy out and hopefully he’ll get well,” McBride said. “We’ll keep praying for him.”

Anderson, a junior, was one of five sprinters who rotated on the 400-meter relay team this season. The team is seeded sixth in the state entering Friday’s Class AA meet at Shippensburg University.

The four remaining sprinters — Cyair Clark, Tajier Thornton, Vernon Redd and Nate Lindsey — practiced at Shippensburg High School after making the three-hour trip across the state.

McBride said the ride was quiet.

“That’s something you try not to talk about unless they bring it up,” he said. “But as we came on the track today … they said, ‘Let’s do this for Sonny.’”

“They’re all heartbroken,” Patrick said. “They’re going to give it their all just for him. He’s a teammate. He’s one of their brothers.”

Anderson also was a top defensive back and leading receiver for Aliquippa’s football team that reached the WPIAL finals in the fall. His football teammates met Wednesday to talk, said Patrick, who coaches both sports.

“They were distraught,” he said. “When you see those kids’ faces, they were crying, and they’re just worried about him. Not as a football teammate but as a person.”

The news also hit Patrick painfully hard. He learned about the shooting through text messages and calls as folks tried to make sense of it. Many of the details, including Anderson’s prognosis, remain unclear.

“I was just shocked because Antonyo is a great kid all the way around,” Patrick said. “Well-mannered. Straight-A student. Works hard in the weight room and on the football field. He’s good in the community. A lot of kids look up to him as a role model.

“To hear something like that, it broke me down, truthfully.”

The coaches said many details of the shooting remain unclear.

But sadly, this isn’t the first time Aliquippa’s high school athletes have been touched by violence or tragedy.

“It just seems like every other year it’s something,” said McBride, an Aliquippa native, who has coached the track team for more than two decades. “All of these things hit home because, besides being teammates, some of these guys are family.”

The 400-meter relay is a tradition at Aliquippa, which has won the WPIAL title in that event more often than not in recent years. The Quips finished fourth in the state in 2017 and ’18, and third in 2019. Track season was canceled last spring because of the pandemic.

The Quips will take the track around 1 p.m. Friday. They’re in the third heat along with PIAA favorite Southern Columbia (42.51 seconds), WPIAL champion North Catholic (43.28) and five other teams. The Quips’ qualifying time is 43.82.

Their mission is to medal, but they wish Anderson was there with them.

“You’re just trying to keep everybody focused,” McBride said. “Some people take things harder than others. When you’re talking about 15- or 16-year-old kids, you don’t know how these kids are feeling. All you can do as a coach, all you can do as a parent, all you can do as a friend is be there for them.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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