Gateway athletes set for WPIAL championship meet

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Sunday, May 16, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The Gateway track and field spring season was one of growth and discovery for a number of athletes breaking into varsity competition for the first time.

Only a few of the Gators had experience at meets from the 2019 season before spring 2020 was wiped out because of the covid pandemic.

The stretch run to Wednesday’s WPIAL individual finals at Slippery Rock saw several from Gateway take final shots at either making the field of 24 in each event or bettering their performances and strengthening their already-clinched positions.

WPIAL coaches had until 8 p.m. last Thursday to submit their team’s top times and distances for consideration to the championship meet.

The WPIAL track and field committee then was to set the field for each event and released the lists.

Junior sprinter Amaya Robinson knew she was assured a spot for the Class AAA girls 100-meter dash as she and her Gators teammates ran a last-chance meet May 11 at West Mifflin High School.

She ran 13.28 seconds in the 100 and placed fifth out of 26. But her season-best of 12.58 had her ranked sixth in Class AAA on the final performance lists.

Robinson also hoped for a late surge in the 200, and she placed 10th (29.00 seconds) in the event at West Mifflin.

In a challenging field at the Baldwin Invitational on May 7, Robinson made the finals of the 200 and took 15th. She placed 16th in the 100.

“The weather was not cooperating, so she was running into a stiff head wind (at West Mifflin) or was running in very cold temperatures (Baldwin) these last two weeks when times would be dropping,” Gateway coach Tom LaBuff said.

Similar strong hopes for WPIALs came in the hurdles where seniors Jayson Jenkins and Omarion Davidson and freshman Kiki Pitts hoped to make their cases for better placement in both hurdles events.

Davidson went into the West Mifflin meet close to the cut mark in the 110 hurdles.

“He beat several of those listed ahead of him (at West Mifflin), but the times were very slow due to the wind,” LaBuff said. “That was very frustrating.”

Davidson placed first in the 110 hurdles at West Mifflin with a time of 16.66, and Jenkins was third. Davidson owned a season-best 16.58 heading into West Mifflin, which ranked him 21st overall on the final performance lists.

Jenkins earned a sixth-place medal in the 110 hurdles at the Baldwin Invitational. He finished his finals heat with a time of 15.92, slightly above his season-best of 15.74.

Pitts finished fifth in the girls 100 hurdles at West Mifflin and added an eighth in the 300 hurdles. Both times were higher than her season-bests of 17.13 in the 100 and 51.17 in the 300.

The girls 400 relay of Robinson, Pitts, Meredith Geno and Megan McFetridge finished the regular season with a best time of 52.37, which put them right at the 24th and final qualifying spot.

The quartet was a second slower at West Mifflin with a 53.27, but it finished fifth overall.

The Gateway boys 400 relay of Jenkins, Elijah Heller, Michael Stuckey and Cooper Hayes also set themselves up for a spot at WPIALs with a season-best time of 45.25 in a section meet against Franklin Regional. That put them 20th in the final WPIAL rankings.

Marina Grado ran a season-best 2:28.58 in the 800 at West Mifflin to put her 23rd in the rankings.

Geno also achieved a season best of 9 feet in the pole vault at West Mifflin, placing her 22nd on the performance list for the event.

The girls 3,200 relay of Grado, McFetridge, Emma Sandor and Kiyara Sawyers owned a season-best of 10:25.03 on their resume, putting them in line for inclusion to the WPIAL field.

Also making cases for WPIALs were Luke Whisel and Brady Sundin in the boys 3,200 run, and Remy Bose in the boys shot put.

Whisel’s best 3,200 time from the regular season was 10:10.06, while Sundin added a time of 10:11.66 in the event.

Bose’s season best of 43-4¾ in the shot came in a 14th-place finish at the Baldwin Invitational.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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