Butler boys, girls dominate at WPIAL Class AAA team finals

Wednesday, May 12, 2021 | 10:43 PM

As Butler runner C.J. Singleton neared the finish line, the junior wondered how close his nearest 800-meter challenger was, so he took a quick glance behind him.

“You’re usually not supposed to look back,” he admitted afterward.

But it’s understandable. Butler’s top runners rarely had anyone out in front of them Wednesday during the WPIAL Class AAA team track and field championships at West Mifflin.

The Tornado won the boys and girls team titles, making them only the third school to sweep Class AAA in the past two decades. Hempfield won both in 2012, and North Allegheny swept in 2004.

Combined, a Butler boy or girl placed first in 23 of 36 events.

“We just have a really good balance,” said Butler boys coach Mike Seybert, adding this might be the school’s best team ever. “All 18 events. There’s not a weak event.”

The WPIAL title was the fourth in a row for the Butler girls, who won in 2017-19. The pandemic canceled last season. The Butler boys hadn’t won a title since 2006, but the Tornado continued their remarkable streak of scoring at least 100 points against every opponent this season.

“I came in here and was going to do whatever I needed to help the team win,” said Singleton, who owns the WPIAL’s fastest 1,600- and 3,200-meter times this spring. The junior won the 800 and 1,600 and ran legs on the winning 3,200 relay and the runner-up 1,600 relay.

“I think I had another race in me,” he added, “but we cleaned up pretty early, so I got to rest and run the four-by-four, which was pretty fun.”

The North Allegheny girls placed second to Butler, Norwin was third and Belle Vernon finished fourth. On the boys side, Seneca Valley was second with Canon-McMillan third and South Fayette fourth.

“There’s no shame to get beat by a really good team like Butler,” North Allegheny coach John Neff said. “Hats off to them. They’re a great team.”

The Butler boys outscored Seneca Valley, 100½-49½; Canon-McMillan, 109-41; and South Fayette, 112½ -37½. The Butler girls won 81-60 over North Allegheny, 94-47 over Norwin and 106-35 over Belle Vernon.

Butler won with a long list of first-place finishes, adding to what is becoming a historic season for the program. Junior sprinter Guinness Brown won the 100, 200 and 400, and he nearly had a fourth win but was edged at the line by Canon-McMillan’s Justin Egizio in the 400 relay.

Both Brown and Singleton are favorites to win WPIAL individual titles May 19.

“We’ve had good success in track and field at our school, but Guinness Brown and C.J. Singleton are a cut above everybody we’ve ever had,” their coach, Seybert, said. “We’ve been keeping records there for 96 years. We’ve have records from the 1920s and ‘30s, handed down from coach to coach. They’re the fastest sprinter and fastest distance runner.”

Among the winners for the Butler girls, Ally Morrow won the 100, long jump and contributed to the 400 relay. Emma Lehman won the 300 hurdles and ran in two winning relays.

This was the Butler girls’ seventh WPIAL team title since 2009.

“One of our girls just said: ‘Hey coach, I’m a senior. We won the title every year,’ ” said Butler girls coach John Williams. “We didn’t get a chance to go for it last year, but freshman year, sophomore year, we never lost. We don’t want to lose this. We want to stay on top.”

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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