Penn Hills athletes open indoor season with strong effort at TSTCA meet

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Thursday, January 10, 2019 | 7:57 PM


The Penn Hills indoor track team might not have the numbers this year, but the Indians are hoping quality overtakes quantity.

The girls team got off to a good start as four athletes finished in the top 10 at the first Tri-State Track Coaches Association indoor meet at Edinboro University on Jan. 5.

The Indians were led by freshman Miniya Pinnix, who broke the indoor school record in the 800-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 24.37 seconds. Pinnix outran Butler’s Chesna Tomko (2:28.29) and Shaler’s Danielle Eshelman (2:28.82).

Pinnix broke the school record that was set by Kaitlin Grimm in 2004. Grimm holds the school records in the 1,600-meter, mile, 3,000-meter, 3,200-meter and was part of the 3,200-meter relay.

“It was really nice because you don’t know in the first meet how it’s going to play out. It gives them a lot of confidence,” coach Lee Zelkowitz said. “Running that well early goes to show that you’ve been training well, and there are good things to come.”

A second freshman shined as Drew Hines finished second in the 400-meter run with a time of 63.25.

Junior Kiera Ward placed in the top 10 in two events — 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles. Ward finished fifth in the hurdles in 10.26 seconds and was seventh in the 60-meter dash in 8.49.

Junior Eliza Brennan finished sixth in the 200-meter dash in 27.10.

Pinnix anchored the 1,600-meter relay team that won in 4:12.40. The Indians relay of Brennan, Hines, senior Caroline Webb and Pinnix outran West Allegheny (4:28.76).

The Indians’ 800-meter relay team of Kaley Croom, Alleyah Brooks, Kenya White and Ajanae Young finished 11th in 2:09.73.

“You see a little success like that and it makes the other girls work hard and buy into our system,” Zelkowitz said. “We are low on numbers this year, but our quality and work ethic that we have so far has overridden the lack of numbers that we usually have.”

The boys team was led by sophomore Jonah Silverman, who finished 13th in the triple jump (37 feet, 2 inches). Senior Brennon Williams-Howard finished 26th in the mile in 5:25.41.

Freshman Supreme Saunders finished 27th in the 200-meter dash (26.02) and 33rd in the long jump (15-0).

Last year during the indoor season, the Indians were led by the boys team. Alex Trower qualified for the state meet in the 60 and 200, Emmanuel Mitchell qualified in the high jump and Jaden Rouse qualified in the triple jump. On the girls team, Lillia Allen qualified in the shot put. Trower, Mitchell and Rouse all graduated.

This year, Zelkowitz hopes to have a handful of athletes qualify for the TSTCA championship in February with the state meet also in sight. Zelkowitz looks for Pinnix (800), Brennan (200 and 400) and Hines (400) to advance.

The Indians hope the girls 1,600-meter relay meets the qualifying time, while Zelkowitz hopes one or two boys reach the qualifying standard.

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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