Quaker Valley hurdler Nora Johns 2nd to none for 2nd straight season

Sunday, June 5, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Quaker Valley’s celebrated three-sport athlete Nora Johns didn’t just repeat as the PIAA Class 2A girls 300-meter hurdles champion.

Johns broke the school record in accomplishing the feat May 28 at Shippensburg University.

The talented QV junior won the event with a time of 44.78 seconds, lowering her personal-best time from 45.01 and establishing a new school record.

Johns edged out Bedford sophomore Autumn Becker (44.87) in winning her second state hurdling title.

“I am pretty pleased with my performance in that race even though (Becker) was sneaking up on me,” Johns said. “Normally, I don’t like a close race, but without it, I wouldn’t have gotten a new PR. The time I ran is my new best time and now my school record. My best time had been 45.01, so not a huge difference but enough to set the record.”

Johns started competing in the 300 hurdles as a sophomore and won last year’s PIAA title in 45.07. She was the seeded No. 1 at this year’s event.

“I sort of set expectations of myself that I should win because going into prelims and finals I was seeded first in 2A,” Johns said. “Normally to calm the nerves, I need to tell myself that there are absolutely no expectations of me. But when it comes down to race time, I know I have to perform and meet my self-set expectations or I won’t be happy.

“I am so grateful I had the opportunity to run (at Shippensburg) and am thankful for everything and everyone that has helped me get to this point.”

The list of “everyone that has helped” is a long one. She is most appreciative that it is.

“Honestly, I can’t pick just one person that has helped me,” she said. “It has been all of my coaches, my dad, my old coaches and really anyone that believed in me. They have all been so patient and put so much time into coaching me so that I was able to accomplish what I did.

“I would say one person who has helped me the most is one of my coaches, J.J. Veshio. Ever since last year, he has sort of been a personal coach. He’s always willing to work with me on my race and I really appreciate that. Last season was the first time I’d ever run the 300 hurdles, and I’m pretty sure one day at a home meet I kind of just hopped into it. My dad had been saying all through middle school track that it was going be the race for me, and now I have to agree with him.”

Johns actually was a triple medalist at the state meet.

All three QV relay teams earned PIAA medals. Johns competed with the 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams, which placed sixth and eighth. The 400 relayers were the top WPIAL squad in their race; the 1,600 runners were the second-best WPIAL unit.

Freshmen Vanessa Pickett and Kwilai Karto, sophomore Spencer Elliott and Johns teamed up in the 400, while junior Kathryn Karwoski, Karto, sophomore Ellie Cain and Johns were the 1,600 team.

QV’s 3,200 relay team, consisting of senior Anna Cohen, sophomore Kate Hines, freshman Cecilia Montagnese and Cain, finished in eighth place as the leading WPIAL squad.

“I am so very excited for all of the relay teams and the fact they all medaled,” Johns said. “They all did an amazing job, and I am thrilled to have been teammates with those girls.

“I cannot speak for the 4-by-800 because I was not on it, but for the other two relays, I was pleased with our performance. Although we may have not been as high on the podium as we would have liked, we are still one of the top teams in the state and I’ll take that any day.”

Johns, who also competes in basketball and soccer, was a four-time WPIAL medalist this year, repeating as the 300-meter hurdles champion, taking fifth in the 100 hurdles and running a leg on QV’s 400 and 1,600 runner-up relay teams.

“I think my performance at WPIALs helped prepare me for states,” said Johns, a three-year letter winner in all three of her sports.

Johns is a 5-foot-8 guard on the QV girls basketball team. She has a 4.3 GPA, participates in the yearbook club and is a member of the Girls Scouts and FCA.

Cain also competed in the 800-meter event at the PIAA finals and ended up 11th in 2:21.4 — the second-fastest WPIAL time in the race.

Cain won a WPIAL championship in the 800 this year.

Two other PIAA individual qualifiers for QV’s girls team were Montagnese, in the 1,600 and 3,200, and senior Ainsley Commens, in the pole vault. Montagnese was a triple medalist for the Quakers at the WPIAL finals.

Senior Kadin Johnson, hailed as the fastest runner at QV this year, was the lone state qualifier on the boys team. Johnson advanced to the PIAA Class 3A meet in the 200- and 400-meter dashes.


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