Latrobe’s Williams leaves home track as big winner at WCCA meet

Saturday, April 27, 2019 | 7:47 PM

Latrobe sprinter Zakharee Williams always has considered himself a strong finisher.

So, making his final appearance on his home track, the senior won four events Saturday and earned MVP honors at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association championship meet.

Williams won individual medals in the boys 100 and 400 meters, and ran strong legs on Latrobe’s winning 400- and 1,600-meter relays. The 400 relay victory was the team’s third WCCA title in four years.

“This was my last meet here on this track,” Williams said, looking around Latrobe Memorial Stadium, “so I wanted to show out today.”

The key to his strong finish was a fast start.

Williams owns the closing speed to chase down opponents, which he needed to do more often earlier in his track career when slow starts always had him trailing. But he burst from the blocks Saturday.

“That’s something we worked on a lot the last couple of years, him coming out of the blocks and then his drive phase,” Latrobe sprints coach Pat Murray said. “He had a tendency when he was younger to come out of the blocks and pop straight up — and that’s certainly not what we want. He’s mastered keeping his head and shoulders down, driving through and then getting to his upright running position.”

A solid start was key in the 100 meters as Williams posted a personal-best 11.15 seconds and outran Ligonier Valley’s Elliot Ross (11.33) in the finals.

Williams ran 11.31 last week at the Butler Invitational.

“We talked about how important it was for him to get a great start today,” Murray said, “because the runner from Ligonier is a great finisher. So I told Zak, you’ve got to get a great start, get out in front of him and put some pressure on him. He ran it exactly as we talked about.”

Williams won the 400 meters in 50.35 seconds.

The team of Connor Pickup, Mitchel Carl, Zach Carroll and Williams won the 1,600 relay in 3:30.03. Ryan Sickenberger, Williams, Carl and Carroll won the 400 relay in 43.94.

Williams and Carl also were in the lineup when Latrobe won 400 relay titles in 2016 and ‘18. They helped set a meet record last season in 43.15 seconds.

The weather was sunny and dry — making for good footing on the track — but the 20-mph wind was unrelenting. The gusts affected some events more than others. At times, sprinters were charging into a headwind.

“The backstretch was very good, you were flying,” Williams said. “But at the finish, when you’re already dying, the wind is hitting you, too. You’ve just got to fight through it.”

Norwin’s Emily Brozeski earned the girls MVP honor by winning the 100 hurdles, the 400 relay and placing third in the 300 hurdles.

Hempfield thrower Mackenna Orie won shot put (44-5) and discus (135-6) to earn the girls MVP award for field events, but the day fell short of her expectations. Orie’s shot put distance broke a 34-year-old meet record set by Greensburg Central Catholic graduate Colleen Rosensteel (43-9) in 1985.

“I did not have a very good day,” said Orie, who threw 46-7½ in the same stadium April 13. “I won both and (broke) the meet record, which I’m happy about. But distance-wise, it definitely was not what I was looking to throw.”

Latrobe’s Kameron Stevens and Hempfield’s Dan Norris shared the boys field MVP. Stevens took second in the boys long and triple jumps and seventh in the high jump. Norris was second in the boys shot put and discus.

The combined MVP honors were awarded to Greensburg Central Catholic’s Corinn Brewer and Belle Vernon’s Hunter Martin.

Martin won the boys triple jump (44-1½) and the 300 hurdles (40.37), and he placed second in the 110 hurdles and third in the long jump.

Brewer, a freshman, won the girls 1,600 meters (5:19.80), the 3,200 meters (11:46.43) and pole vault (10-4) while braving strong wind gusts.

“I tried to vault whenever the wind was the least,” Brewer said. “It’s not my best by any means, but with the winds and the conditions, I’m happy with how I did.”

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

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