Gateway track expects strong WPIAL meet

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Friday, May 10, 2019 | 8:10 PM


Gateway should be well-represented at the WPIAL Class AAA track and field championships May 16 at Slippery Rock.

For the girls, senior Mary Kromka qualified in both hurdles events, and seniors Shelly Jones and Sarah Corrie advanced in the shot put. Jones was hoping to qualify in the discus, and Corrie in the javelin.

“Our girls team is very young,” coach Tom LaBuff said, “but we do have some solid senior leadership in Mary Kromka, Shelly Jones and Sarah Corrie. They are very competitive but came up on the short end against teams in our section with superior depth.”

Kromka was a four-year starter and three-year captain on the girls basketball team. She was the Gators’ second-leading scorer and rebounder last season.

“Mary is definitely a contender in the 300-meter hurdles and could surprise in the 100-meter hurdles, as well, if she can improve her start,” LaBuff said. “Our two senior throwers are both among the top throwers in the WPIAL. Shelly has been among the top seven all year in the shot put, while Sarah just popped a throw of 37-plus feet. Sarah is also outstanding in the javelin. Shelly sprained an ankle (recently) but should be ready for the finals. I fully expect both girls to medal and qualify for states. I will be highly disappointed for them if they come up short.”

Freshman sprinter Amaya Robinson anticipated a WPIAL berth in both the girls 100 and 200.

“Amaya will need to run well, obviously, but she has a good chance of being in the top eight in the 100 and making the state qualifying time,” LaBuff said. “She has been a pleasant surprise. We knew that she was fast, but she also came in with a great work ethic and has worked hard to improve. She is also quite the competitor.”

Robinson anchors the 400 relay, a probable qualifier. The team consists of Robinson, Kromka, sophomore Cenaiya Burgher and senior Kianah Blakely-White.

“The 400-meter relayers could drop one-and-a-half to two seconds if they can just hit their handoffs,” LaBuff said. “If they do so, they will surprise some of the other teams.

“It did not help that we lost both of our jumpers (Jordan Jennings and Christabelle Livsey) to injury halfway through the season. Both are superior athletes who excel in multiple events in the jumps and on the track. That impacted not only our jumps, but also all three relays. There is no doubt in my mind that both would have qualified for the WPIAL championships in more than one event. The future looks promising.”

The 1,600 and 3,200 relays were on the qualifying bubble for the WPIAL meet. Kromka, Robinson, junior Maddie Smith and freshman Megan McFetridge run the 1,600 relay. Smith and three freshmen, Emma Sandor, Kiyara Sawyers and Sarah Karstetter, are 3,200 relayers.

“None of our girls are a lock to medal or qualify for states,” LaBuff said, “but just about all of them could do both.”

Turning to Gateway’s boys team, senior Bryce Washington and freshman J.T. Taylor form a solid one-two punch in the shot put. In addition, sophomore Derrick Davis was anticipating a spot in the 100 and 200.

Junior Nana Adusepoku is a qualifier in the 100, 200, 400, and likely, the 400 relay.

“Nana anchors our 400 relay,” LaBuff said. “We have yet to decide where he will run at the finals. Nana is one of the favorites in all three of the sprints. The 400 is probably his best chance for a gold, although he also could surprise in the 100. If he gets out of the block like he sometimes can, he can run with any of the favorites.”

Adusepoku is joined by Davis, junior Ben Meshanko and senior Daven Burnham in the 400 relay.

Davis (6-0, 180) is rated among the nation’s top sophomore football prospects by 247Sports, ranking No. 41. He has scholarship offers Notre Dame, Texas A&M and many others.

“Derek is just beginning to get into shape,” LaBuff said. “He has nursed a hamstring issue all season and has really not been able to train properly. … The boys season has been disappointing. Two of the kids we were depending on matriculated early to college to focus on trying to make the starting team and play as freshmen on Division I football teams. Two other senior stars were needed (away from the track) to provide financial support for their families and were unable to compete this year.”

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