Relay team’s scratch keeps Penn Hills hurdler from claiming state medal

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Sunday, June 2, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Penn Hills senior hurdler Achan Green did what he needed to do. After attending the prom Thursday night, Green’s dad drove him to the PIAA Class 3A state track meet at Shippensburg University on the Friday before Memorial Day.

While Green grabbed the last qualifying spot in the finals of the 110-meter hurdles, he wouldn’t have an opportunity to compete for a medal.

Two members of the 1,600-meter relay team didn’t make the trip out east after a scheduling conflict.

The PIAA championships are a “no scratch” meet. Because the Indians couldn’t run in the 1,600 relay, Green was barred from competing in the finals of the 110 hurdles.

Green, who won the WPIAL championship in the event, was guaranteed a medal as long as he didn’t false start. However, Penn Hills pulling out of the relay sank his chances. Indians coach Lee Zelkowitz filed an appeal with the PIAA, which was denied.

Green reached the finals with a time of 14.53 seconds.

“Achan came up after the prom. His dad drove him,” Zelkowitz said. “He did well in the prelims in the hurdles. He got the last qualifying spot for the finals. Because we weren’t able to run the 4×4 relay, he wasn’t able to run in the finals. I think he could have finished in the top half of the event.”

Zelkowitz declined to specify why the athletes were absent or which runners missed the race.

Zelkowitz knows first-hand that his team’s scheduling predicament isn’t unique. While attending the state meet this year, he noticed a coach from Norwin with a boom box in the hotel elevator. Zelkowitz asked what was going on.

Much like Penn Hills, which faces a yearly conflict with the prom and Kennywood picnic, Norwin faces an annual scheduling quirk with the PIAA track meet and graduation.

“He plays ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ they take their cap and gowns, and they do graduation there,” Zelkowitz said. “We aren’t the only district that faces conflicts.”

This was a tough blow for Green, who missed the state meet as a junior after suffering an injury at the WPIAL championship meet. Green didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Penn Hills’ next top finisher at the event was Kali Booker, who placed 25th in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.50 seconds. Mackenzie McIntyre finished 33rd with a time of 26.63 seconds in the 200-meter dash.

The 400-meter relay team — consisting of Malia Powell, Jadyn Golden, Booker and McIntyre — finished in 22nd place with a time of 49.24 seconds.

McIntyre, a junior, will return next season.

“We had hoped to do better,” Zelkowitz said. “(Mackenzie) did the best she could. She’s dealing with an iffy hamstring. She did well with the circumstances. It was a good opportunity to get her feet wet.”

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