Brownsville’s Jolena Quarzo extends family’s winning streak to 5 at PIAA championships

Saturday, May 27, 2023 | 4:23 PM

The PIAA had a special guest award Brownsville senior Jolena Quarzo her final state championship gold medal — her older sister Gionna.

The sisters combined to win the 3,200-meter title five times in a row, with the younger sister finishing off their dominant run Saturday with a nine-second win in the PIAA Class 2A track championship at Seth Grove Stadium. Jolena Quarzo won the distance event for the third year in a row, but having her sister here made this extra special.

“She’s like my best friend,” Jolena Quarzo said. “Having her come and surprise me yesterday, and then being at the podium today just meant so much to me.”

Quarzo finished in 10 minutes, 21.29 seconds, with Forest Hills’ Delaney Dumm in second at 10:30.46.

“I didn’t have much of a strategy,” Quarzo said. “It was just go out with Delaney, when I feel good, move in and try to win.”

Older sister Gionna won the 3,200-meter title in 2018 and ’19. She likely could’ve won a third, but her senior season was canceled because of the covid pandemic.

She’s now a junior on N.C. State’s track team, but returned to Pennsylvania on Friday to surprise her younger sister at states.

“I didn’t know until about 5 o’clock,” Jolena Quarzo said. “She came in from Florida. She’d just run her regional meet. I expected her to stay down there and cheer for her teammates, but she came yesterday. I just came out of the shower and she scared me. I said, ‘What the heck? You’re here!’”

Jolena Quarzo also is an N.C. State recruit. She defended her 1,600-meters title Friday, and now owns six PIAA gold medals overall, including one from cross country.

While discussing the state’s strong tradition in distance events, she quickly named some of the top runners from recent years. Her list started with sGionna and included Moon’s Mia Cochran, West Chester Henderson’s Jenna Mulhern, Northern’s Marlee Starliper and Greencastle-Antrim’s Taryn Parks.

“They’re just all amazing runners that I really look up to,” she said. “I know them all pretty much. … Just to put my name out there (with theirs) for the last three years has meant a lot to me.”

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


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