Allen, relays lead Penn Hills’ strong effort at WPIAL championships
By: Andrew John
Thursday, May 23, 2019 | 9:02 PM
This season, the Penn Hills track and field program has been led by the girls team.
If the Indians wanted to travel to Shippensburg this season, they were going to have to lean on senior Lillia Allen in the shot put and discus, as well as their 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams.
Penn Hills went to the WPIAL Class AAA championships at Slippery Rock on May 16 and qualified for the state meet in all four of those events.
Allen, a Dayton recruit, finished second in both the shot put and discus after missing all of her junior season with a shoulder injury.
In the shot put, she threw 40 feet, 1⁄2 inch, which was behind Hempfield’s Mackenna Orie (44-1⁄2).
In the discus, Allen threw 130-3, which was behind Orie’s 152-0 mark.
“She threw most of her throws without spinning or anything. It was pretty much all upper body. It was amazing how far she could throw. It just shows her toughness,” Zelkowitz said.
“She missed a year with the shoulder injury. It was a lot of therapy and rehab. She didn’t do the indoor season so she could work on technique and building strength in that shoulder. I’m really proud of her. She did a great job coming back.”
As a sophomore, Allen finished second in the shot put (43-1) at WPIALs and was 11th at states (38-10 3⁄4).
In the discus, Allen finished third (125-5) at WPIALs and fourth (137-11) at states.
Allen had mixed emotions about competing in her final high school track and field meet.
“I’ve been doing track and field for nine or 10 years. It’s kind of sad in a way because I’ve been doing this for so long. I’m going to miss my coaches and my teammates that I grew up with,” Allen said.
Zelkowitz was nervous with how his relays would perform because the lack of experience. However, both Penn Hills relay teams performed on the big stage.
The 400 relay of freshman Liz Blackwell, junior Eliza Brennan, sophomore Faith Crawford and freshman Drew Hines finished second with a time of 48.84 seconds. The Indians were beat out by Mt. Lebanon, which finished with a time of 48.24.
The same foursome finished third in the 1,600 relay in 3:59.64. Penn Hills finished behind Mt. Lebanon (3:56.01) and Pine-Richland (3:57.23).
“These are young girls, and they are very inexperienced with this. But they showed up in both relays as champions. They didn’t blink. They performed flawlessly, and it was really something to see,” Zelkowitz said.
“I had a good feeling about it but they really showed up and ran well. They surprised some people especially in that 4-by-4 relay.”
Individually, Brennan finished eighth in the 200 in 26.46, while junior Kemi Balogun finished 15th in the triple jump with a mark of 33-10.
“It was key to get that experience this year,” Zelkowitz said. “(Brennan) will be a contender next year. She’s had a really good indoor and outdoor season. She’s a really good team leader. This experience for WPIAL and states is going to give them a launching pad for next year.”
Freshman Angelo Allen, Lillia’s brother, finished seventh in the shot put with a mark of 47-10 1⁄4.
“I’m very proud of him for how he performed as a freshman. I think that boy is going to be hitting 70 by senior year. I know he didn’t make it to states this year, but I think it’s a guarantee that he’s going to make it next year for both indoor and outdoor,” Lillia Allen said.
The results from PIAA championships at Shippensburg weren’t available before this edition’s deadline.
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