Penn Hills track team has successful indoor season

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Thursday, February 27, 2020 | 11:45 PM


After a rebuilding season last year, the Penn Hills indoor track and field team will have a handful of athletes represent the program at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association State Indoor and Field championship.

The Indians had four athletes and a relay team qualify for the state meet at State College on March 1 after their performances at the Tri-State Track Coaches Association Indoor championships at Edinboro on Feb. 22.

Sophomore Miniya Pinnix (800-meter run), senior Kiera Ward (60-meter hurdles), senior Kemi Balogun (triple jump), Angelo Allen (shot put) and the girls 1,600-meter relay qualified.

“I’m really proud of how the team responded at the championships. Usually, you have some people do well and others not do so well. But it seemed like everyone stepped up,” coach Lee Zelkowitz said. “To qualify for indoor is harder than qualifying for outdoor. There is only one class for indoor. Just to get there just says something about the talent.”

Pinnix finished in second place in the 800 after finishing with a time of 2:18.21 just behind South Fayette’s Emma Fleck (2:18.03). Pinnix finished just ahead of Plum’s Angela Valotta (2:18.85) and Upper St. Clair’s Claire Hoffman (2:19.40).

“We went through our race strategy and she carried it out perfectly,” Zelkowitz said. “It was good because it showed her toughness and she handled it well. There is nothing to be ashamed of not winning that thing. Any of those of the girls could’ve won.”

At Edinboro, Balogun finished second in the triple jump with a mark of 36-1, which was behind Obama Academy’s Leslie Manson (36-8.5). Balogun finished ahead of Franklin Regional’s Rayna Todero (36-0.5).

Ward ran her personal best in the 60 hurdles as she finished second with a time of 9.30, which was behind Villa Maria Academy’s Grace Parker (9.27).

“She hit a hurdle last week. I think she needed a good run for her confidence,” Zelkowitz said. “It’s only going to help her for the outdoor season. She was injured last year, so it’s nice to see her healthy and progressing.”

The girls 1,600-meter relay team of senior Amanda McCann, senior Eliza Brennan, junior Faith Crawford and Pinnix finished second at Edinboro with a time of 4:08.89. South Fayette won the race with the time of 4:08.75.

Allen finished fifth in the shot put with a mark of 50-02.00. However, a mark of 51-9.75 in an earlier meet in the indoor season was good enough to qualify Allen for the state meet.

“We’re kind of down in numbers this year but not in quality,” Zelkowitz said. “This is the best team I’ve had in a long time as far as talent and their attitudes and how hard they work. I’m happy with how they’ve responded and how the training is going.”

Brennan almost qualified for the state meet after finishing second at Edinboro with a time of 1:00.53. Zelkowitz has been pleased with junior Jonah Silverman’s progression throughout the indoor season as he finished with a time of 2:02.16 in the 800-meter run.

For the Indians participating in the state indoor meet, Zelkowitz wanted them to use it as springboard for the outdoor season.

“They need to enjoy the experience, have fun and hopefully bring some medals home. It’s going to set them up really well for the outdoor season,” Zelkowitz said.

Balogun (triple jump) and Allen (shot put) were seeded second and 17th in their respective events. Pinnix (800) and the girls 1,600-meter relay team were seeded 12th and 17th. Ward was seeded 14th in the 60 hurdles.

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