Going the distance: Quaker Valley’s success continues in 3,200 relay

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Sunday, May 28, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Three juniors and a sophomore have proven to be a dynamic 3,200-meter girls relay unit at Quaker Valley.

The 3,200 relayers, consisting of juniors Kate Hines, Elizabeth Szuba and Ellie Cain and sophomore Cecilia Montagnese, took first place at the WPIAL Class 2A girls individual championships held May 17 at Slippery Rock.

“This relay team is very strong. I think all four of them could have qualified for the open 800, but each team is only permitted to run three individuals,” QV coach Jared Jones said. “All four of these girls have been working hard all year for this opportunity and are great friends off the track. I am very proud they were able to perform when it mattered most.”

Montagnese ran in the first position, followed by Szuba at No. 2 and Hines at the third spot. Montagnese was able to grab the lead in the last 200 meters of her run.

“From there, the team maintained first place and everyone really ran their best to get us there,” Montagnese said.

Szuba said Montagnese laid the groundwork for a championship performance with her strong effort in the first 800 meters of the race.

“I am so proud and honored to be a part of Quaker Valley’s 3,200 relay team this year,” Szuba said. “Despite being the first seed at WPIALs, our team never got too comfortable. We all knew we were capable of winning but knew we would have to run our hardest in order to do so.

“Cecilia came out with an amazing first leg putting us in the first-place position from the very start. Kate and I were able to continue to widen the gap, and Ellie came in as a strong anchor. Ellie, Cecilia and Kate are amazing runners and teammates. They have pushed me to become a much stronger runner this year. We worked really hard for this and I’m so excited to continue on to states with them.”

Cain anchored the foursome’s effort and crossed the finish line at 9 minutes, 47.17 seconds, almost 10 seconds faster than runner-up Shady Side Academy’s 9:57.05 time.

The Quakers held the lead when Cain took the baton from Hines.

“I think the race overall went really well for us,” Cain said. “My teammates did what our coaches asked of us to be able to get the win.

“I’m very proud of my relays for being able to make states this year, because my teammates ran their hardest to get us to where we are now.”

All four girls participate in cross country at QV. Montagnese, Szuba and Cain also are indoor track runners; Hines is a member of the girls swim team.

“I had some knee problems over the winter so I only ran at one indoor meet,” Szuba said.

Cain also competed in the anchor spot for QV’s 1,600 relay unit that placed sixth at the WPIAL finals in 4:16.15. Freshman Emma Currier, Hines, sophomore Kwilai Karto and Cain ran for the Quakers.

Both groups of relayers qualified for the PIAA championships, which were held May 26-27 at Shippensburg.

“We all knew we were capable of winning but knew we’d have to run our hardest in order to do so,” Szuba said.

The QV girls also won the 3,200 relay at WPIALs last year and have an outstanding history in the event.

They have reeled in five WPIAL titles since 2015, and also won five in a row from 2001-05. QV’s first championship in the girls 3,200 occurred in 1983.

“I’m really proud of how our team showed up this season,” Montagnese said. “It’s difficult going into the season after winning last year because we had some pressure that motivated us to repeat that victory.

“I had confidence in our team but have been really excited to see that we have grown to become a stronger group of girls, and I’m happy that we were able to defend our WPIAL title.”

Anna Cohen, Hines, Montagnese and Cain competed in the 3,200 relay at last year’s WPIAL championships.

“We set a goal as a team to win WPIALs again,” Hines said. “Everyone worked so hard. I’m proud of everyone’s efforts and contributions.”

Quaker Valley’s boys 3,200 relay unit finished first at the WPIAL finals thanks to a time of 8:08.63, almost two seconds faster than Winchester Thurston’s 8:10.56 effort.

Senior Luke Hotchkiss, freshman River Capek and sophomores Jackson Pethel and Clark LaLomia were the Quakers’ relay runners.

“Even with the large discrepancy in age, the four are great friends off the track and have been working together with our distance coach, Ron Graf, since November,” Jones said. “Over the last six months they have all made such great strides with their performances in all their events.

“I’m very proud of the senior of the group, Luke Hotchkiss, for helping to mentor the other boys, even though on a given day there is a chance the other three could beat him in a race. I’m excited to see what this team can do at the state level.”

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