Perry twins have Derry girls track rolling

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Saturday, April 17, 2021 | 6:40 PM


Athletes participating in high school track and field can only compete in four events.

When the Derry girls track team is competing, opposing coaches are seeing double and checking the roster.

That’s because Leah and Tara Perry, identical twins, can compete in eight events if their coaches prefer.

“They haven’t been beaten yet in our section matches,” Derry Area jump coach Greg Rager said. “They pretty much give us 40 points in a meet. When that happens, we’re tough to beat.”

Tara Perry competes in the high jump, triple jump, 100-meter hurdles and the 400 relay. She qualified in the high jump for the PIAA meet in 2019. She holds the school record of 5 feet, 2 inches in the event.

Leah Perry competes in the long jump, 300-meter hurdles and the 400 and 1,600 relays. She is after the school record in the long jump of 17-2. Her best leap is 16-5.

“We expect Leah to make a run at the record,” Rager said. “We also expect Tara to better her high jump mark.”

The sisters are busy at meets, running to their different events.

Derry (3-0) also has a busy week ahead, and the Perrys are eager to compete. The Trojans face Burrell in a first-place showdown in Section 7-2A on Tuesday and then they compete in the Butler Invitational on Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to the Burrell meet and the tough competition at Butler,” Leah said. “The running times with Burrell are very close. It should be an exciting meet.”

There isn’t much difference between the twins. In tennis, Leah played No. 1 singles and Tara second singles. Leah also ran cross country. Rager kiddingly said Tara doesn’t like to run long distances.

Both competed at the Hempfield Lady Spartan Invitational on Friday at Latrobe’s Memorial Stadium. Tara finished third in the high jump, clearing 4-10. Neither girl had a good day in their other events, mainly because of weather conditions.

It was cold, rainy and windy, which made things slick for competitors.

“It was difficult,” Leah said. “The conditions weren’t the best, but we fought through it. Being seniors, we take the role of leaders. We’re trying to make the best of it.”

Tara added: “We’ll do anything to help the team. Friday’s conditions weren’t ideal, but we battled.”

Tara said qualifying for the state meet as a sophomore was an experience. The twins didn’t get to compete in 2020 when the PIAA shut down athletics because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m better prepared for the state meet this season,” Tara said. “Hopefully, I’ll get back. It was amazing to see and compete against all the talented competitors from around the state. It was a little overwhelming.”

Leah came up short of qualifying for the state meet as a sophomore. She, too, is hoping to make it to Shippensburg this season. She knows she has work to do.

“I feel I’m ready and prepared than I was two years ago,” Leah said.

The twins turn 18 on April 21. They’ve done things together forever, but that will change next fall when Tara goes to college at Wheeling Jesuit and Leah attends Clarion.

“It’s definitely going to be different when we go to college,” Leah said. “We’ve done everything together.”

Tara added: “It will be difficult, but we’ll get through it.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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