Penn-Trafford track and field teams cap successful season at PIAA championships

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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | 11:01 AM


In Eric Reger’s 14 years as track coach at Penn-Trafford, the program has made steady progress.

This season, Reger took nine athletes (a record for him) to the PIAA track and field championships last Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium.

There were five individuals and one relay team.

The individuals were a pair of WPIAL champions in senior Matt Sarnowski in the discus and junior Logan Kerstetter in the javelin. The other individuals were senior Amelia Barilla (800), sophomore Thomas Cheplick (400) and junior Jake McGhee (1,600).

McGhee and Thomas Cheplick were joined by Michael Cheplick and Ekoulus Lett on the 1,600-meter relay team that finished second to Norwin at the WPIAL championships May 16. Reger also took two alternates for the relay in case of injuries.

“The athletes are interested in beating their personal best times and a lot have already done that,” Reger said before the meet. “Some have broken school records and others are knocking on the door at breaking other school records. We want to improve from where they started.”

Most eyes at the championship were on Saturday’s Class 3A discus event featuring a showdown between Sarnowski and Hempfield senior Peyton Murray, the returning PIAA champion.

Those two have gone back and forth all season. Murray has the best throw in the state that he set earlier this season at Shippensburg.

“It’s always a great battle between me and Peyton,” Sarnowski said beforehand. “I’m looking forward to the competition.”

Kerstetter just missed qualifying for the PIAA championship last season. The junior has come a long way in one season according to Reger.

“He’s worked hard all year,” Reger said. “We’re hoping he continues to climb up the rankings and medal.”

Barilla and Sarnowski attended graduation ceremonies May 23 and then made the trip to Shippensburg to compete.

This was Barilla’s fourth trip to a PIAA championship. She went twice to the cross country meet and this was her second trip to Shippensburg.

McGhee competed in the first final of the championship at 9 a.m. Friday. He then spent the rest of the meet waiting to compete in the 1,600-meter relay, the final race of the weekend.

“I’m looking to win my heat and then break the school record of 4:20,” McGhee said beforehand. “I’m at 4:21 and I’d like to go 4:19.”

McGhee already owns the school record in the event.

Thomas Cheplick leads off the race for the 1,600-meter relay team, followed by McGhee, Lett and then Michael Cheplick.

Norwin just edged us out,” McGhee said. “We’re bringing it to them. They have a nice team but I feel we can beat them. We’re close to the school record and hopefully we can get it.

“We have better and more competition at the championship. We’re going to compete as the best we can.”

Whatever happens, Reger said he’s enjoying watching this team compete.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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