Quaker Valley athletes shine at WPIAL team, individual track championships

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Sunday, May 29, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Quaker Valley’s girls track and field team offered cogent proof as to why it was able to claim its first WPIAL title since 2007.

The QV girls reeled in medals in 10 events at the WPIAL Class 2A individual championships May 18 at rain-soaked Slippery Rock University.

“I am very proud of all the athletes’ performances in poor weather conditions,” QV coach Jared Jones said. ”Taking home 10 medals is extremely impressive. The girls worked very hard this season and everything seemed to pay off (at the WPIAL finals).

“We had two individuals and a relay place first overall. I was confident in these two individuals and the relay.”

Nora Johns, a top-flight junior athlete, was a four-time WPIAL medalist, repeating as the 300-meter hurdles winner with a time of 45.5 seconds, taking fifth in the 100 hurdles in 16.4, and running a leg on QV’s 400-meter and 1,600-meter relay teams that finished in second place.

“Nora qualified for states in all four of her events,” Jones said. “I am unsure how many other athletes will compete in four events at states. I know Nora is proud of her 300-meter hurdles experience, but knowing Nora, she is probably happier with her performance on the two relays.”

QV’s three-sport standout actually was beaming over the success of the girls team at WPIALs this season.

“First of all, I just want to say how happy I am that our girls team won the WPIAL team championship this year,” Johns said. “Everyone contributed and did an amazing job. Last year, we made it to the finals and weren’t able to get the win, but this year we did, and I am so proud of my teammates and how well everyone did.”

Johns fostered high expectations for the outdoor track season.

“I had very high expectations set for myself and I was able to meet them for the most part,” she said. “I am very satisfied how I did. My main goal was to defend my 300 hurdles and 4-by-400 relay titles which I was able to do for the hurdles.

“Overall, I am thrilled to have qualified for states in all four events, and I think my performance at WPIALs helped prepare me for states.”

Johns, also a QV basketball and soccer athlete, was joined on the WPIAL winner’s stand by sophomore Ellie Cain, who captured first place in the 800-meter run in 2:21.1. Cain also ran a leg on the medal-winning 400 and 1,600 relay teams.

“I am very proud of Ellie for her performance in the 800,” Johns said. “She is such a tough athlete and such a smart runner. Last year, she finished seventh in the 800 and her goal then was to place in the top five and go to states. She worked extremely hard all offseason.

“Early in the track season I told her she should have her sights set higher than just the top five. I was very happy for her when she crossed the finish line (first).”

All three Quaker Valley relay teams were medalists, led by the 3,200-meter group that finished first in 9:54.62.

Senior Anna Cohen, sophomore Kate Hines, freshman Cecilia Montagnese and Cain competed in the 3,200 relay. Freshmen Vanessa Pickett and Kwilai Karto, sophomore Spencer Elliott and Johns teamed up in the 400, while junior Kathryn Karwoski, Karto, Cain and Johns were the 1,600 relayers.

“I am over-the-moon excited for the relay teams,” Johns said. “I am shocked all three relays qualified for states. The 4-by-800 team, in particular, did amazing in winning the WPIAL.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the relay teams and cannot believe we’ve made it this far. I remember at the beginning of the season having absolutely no faith in our 4-by-100 relay and thinking my coach was joking when he said we had a shot at medaling at WPIALs. Now, we are district runners-up and it feels great. And I am so excited to be heading back to Shippensburg to run the 4-by-400 and cannot be happier with our performance at WPIALs.”

Johns has a 4.3 GPA and participates in the yearbook club at QV. She also is a member of the Girls Scouts and FCA.

“It is a lot of work to balance sports and school,” she said. “It isn’t easy to come home and have to study after games or meets. I know a lot of kids work hard and I am happy with the success I have had in the classroom and in sports so far.”

The multi-talented Johns is a 5-foot-8 guard on the QV girls basketball team. She is a three-year letter winner in basketball, soccer and track and field.

“I know it is track season, but in my house basketball never stops,” she said. “I am super excited to see what we have in store this coming season and I have high hopes coming in as a senior, which sounds crazy to say.

“We have a lot of young talent coming up and even though we are losing three of the five starters, there are people working and getting better in the offseason so they are ready to step up to the task.”

Montagnese was a triple medalist for the Quakers at the WPIAL meet, thanks to her fourth-place finish in the 3,200 (11:45.97) and fifth-place showing in the 1,600 (5:29.09).

Senior Ainsley Commens placed fourth in the pole vault by clearing a height of 9 feet, 6 inches, and Karto took seventh in the 100 hurdles in 16.93.

Other top performances were turned in by freshmen Sarah Minard, ninth in the pole vault, and Joyce Olawaiye, 10th in the triple jump, along with Hines, 11th in the 800.

Johnson a three-time WPIAL sprint medalist

The Quaker Valley boys team was led at the WPIAL Class 3A finals by senior sprinter Kadin Johnson, a three-time individual medalist.

Johnson dashed to third place in the 200 in 22.75, fourth in the 400 in 50.11, and sixth in the 100 in 11.38.

“Similar to Ellie (Cain), Kadin finished fifth in the 200 last year. Since our boys compete in 3A this year, only the top four go to states. Kadin was one spot short; his goal since then was to qualify for states,” Jones said. “My goal as a coach was to give him the most opportunities to reach that goal. After a strong offseason, I was able to convince Kadin to focus more on the 400, which ended up being his highest-seeded (WPIAL) event. It was a great to see Kadin finish fourth and officially lock in his spot at the state championships in his senior season.

“Later in the meet he ran the 200, the event he finished fifth in last season. This year, it was a photo finish between third, fourth and fifth place after Kadin made a strong push at the end. He ended up edging out the other two boys to take third overall, giving him two events to participate in at states.”

Matthew Otto, a QV sophomore, barely missed out on a medal, placing ninth in the 3,200. Alex McDonald, a junior, finished ninth in the discus.

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