Penn-Trafford’s Lett, Hempfield’s Prola get unexpected wins at Lady Spartan/Wildcat Invitational

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Saturday, April 13, 2024 | 8:46 PM


It was a strange start to the Lady Spartan/Wildcat Invitational on Saturday at Latrobe’s Memorial Stadium.

The first two winners — Penn-Trafford’s Ekoulus Lett and Hempfield’s Caleb Prola — didn’t even know they won their races. That’s because they were both in the slow heat in the finals.

Lett won the 110-meter hurdles, and Prola won the 100 dash. Both said they didn’t run well in the preliminary heats.

But it was a different story in the finals.

Lett, who had a time of 16.38 seconds in the preliminary round, ran a personal-­record 15.55 during his final heat and edged out Morgantown, W.Va.’s Hayden Casdorph, who won the fast heat in 15.74.

“I was totally surprised when the announcer told me to stand behind No. 1 on the podium,” Lett said. “Winning this sets me up for a big season. I know I can go faster.”

Prola is one of two boys to win two races. He said he couldn’t believe he won. Prola ran an 11.04 to win it. He ran an 11.48 in the prelim. He also won the 200 in 22.66. It was in the fast heat.

“I’m shocked,” Prola said. “I messed up in the prelim and never thought I had a chance to win. I just ran as fast as I could.”

Prola has been nursing a hamstring injury and was pleased with his overall performance. He earned Track Most Valuable Player.

The meet was moved to Saturday because of inclement weather Friday.

The other double winner was Franklin Regional’s Nathan Kociela, who won the 1,600 and 3,200.

His teammate, Peyton Murray, earned Field MVP by winning the shot put with a PR best 59 feet, 1 inch. He was second in the discus with a throw of 177-8.

Penn-Trafford senior Matt Sarnowski won the discus with a PR of 179-3. He took advantage of a prevailing wind by throwing higher than Murray, the reigning PIAA and WPIAL Class 3A champion. Murray uses a lower launch angle.

“These two will be battling all spring,” Hempfield coach Dave Murray said. “They will square off again Thursday, and I can see them each reaching 190. Peyton redeemed himself in the shot put.”

Sarnowski, who will join the Penn State track team, said winning the discus is a huge achievement.

“It was my third throw, and I knew I hit a good one,” Sarnowski said. “I also fouled a big throw. I had a couple other throws in the 170 range.”

Sarnowski also placed third in the javelin and fifth in the shot put.

The Mixed MVP went to Greensburg Central Catholic sophomore Samir Crosby, who won the long jump (20-6), placed fourth in the high jump, fifth in the 100 and ran a leg on the 1,600 relay team that placed fourth.

Franklin Regional senior Gunner Perez, didn’t start high jumping until last season, qualified for the PIAA championships with a jump of 6-1.

Perez already has jumped higher this season. The senior set a PR of 6-4 1/4 to win the event.

“I’m shooting for the school record of 6-6,” Perez said. “That’s my goal: to break the record and win a medal at states.

“I’ll always remember this day. It was the first time I won a gold medal.”

Penn-Trafford won the boys team title. The Warriors other winner was Logan Kerstetter in the javelin.

Greensburg Central Catholic had three other individual winners: James Brewer (300 hurdles), Jerry David (400) and Nick Szekely (800).

The girls had two double winners: DuBois’ Morgan Roemer (1,600 and 3,200) and Laurel Highlands’ Diondra Brown (100 and 200).

Roemer was named Track MVP, and River Valley’s Emily Jackson, who won the shot put and placed second in the discus, earned Field MVP.

The Hempfield girls easily won the team title. The Spartans winners were Maddie Tally (discus), Allison DeMatt (triple jump) and the 3,200 and 1,600 relay teams.

Latrobe has three individual winners: Brylee Bodnar (300 hurdles), Elizabeth Wilson (javelin) and Mia Klasnic (long jump).

Southmoreland’s Megan Mehall won the 400.

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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