South Fayette relay teams conclude special season at nationals

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Sunday, August 1, 2021 | 9:07 AM


After missing out on the 2020 season last spring, the South Fayette green machine girls track relay team became the dream team on the district, state and, finally, the national stage earlier this summer.

Seniors Amy Allen, Bailey Carpenter and Emma Fleck, along with juniors Amanda Marquis and Melana Schumaker and freshman Olivia Renk, built quite an impressive resume this season.

“I think one of the biggest reasons for the girls success is that, even through all of the shutdowns, they continued to dedicate time to getting better,” South Fayette track coach Scott Litwinovich said. “Most of the girls took advantage of voluntary workouts last summer and fall, with no scheduled meets in site. I look at this past spring as one long season that began in March of 2020.

“The ‘track’ portion of the team was the best that I have seen as a coach. There were really no weaknesses, and we had enough depth that we could move some girls around to be successful.”

Here is the impressive list of accomplishments by the South Fayette girls track team this season:

• They enjoyed an undefeated regular season and won the school’s first section title since moving up to Class AAA seven years ago.

• They won WPIAL gold in both the 400 and the 1,600 relay events at Slippery Rock on May 22.

• They won PIAA gold in the 400 relay at Shippensburg on May 29.

• The 400 team was named 2021 First Team Outdoor All-State by the PTFCA.

The incredible season was then capped off when the team earned a spot to participate in the 30th annual National Scholastics Athletics Foundation Outdoor Nationals at Oregon June 30-July 3.

“I originally started to look into the NSAF meet for Amy,” Litwinovich said. “I was really surprised that she didn’t meet the qualifying time at that point. However, while continuing, I noticed that the 4-by-1 had easily qualified. I talked to the girls and their parents, and it was really an easy decision. So, I registered the 4-by-100, and they made the cut. The 4-by-400 actually hadn’t made the qualifying time until after their run at the WPIAL championship. When that happened, I registered them, and again, they made the cut.

“As a head coach, I was certainly blessed to have the opportunity to take a group of girls to the Holy Grail of U.S. Track & Field. The parents kept thanking me, but it was really me that should have been thanking them.”

In Oregon, the Lions finished eighth in the 400 relay and 13th in the 1,600 relay.

“The performances in Oregon were really as expected,” Litwinovich said. “We didn’t run any personal bests, and that was no surprise. We set our training up to peak at the PIAA championships, which obviously paid off. As far as I could tell, we were one of a few scholastic teams, most of the teams that we ran against were club or AAU. If we run those races at our peak, then you’re probably looking at All-American status.”

Now that the memorable season is officially over, the reality of graduation and lost talent has kicked in for Litwinovich.

“Our seniors are leaving big holes to fill,” he said. “Amy is the most talented and versatile runner that I have ever coached. She would make a great heptathlete if she wanted. She has really helped with the overall vision of our program. Duquesne is lucky to have her.

“Emma has been a rock for the distance team since her freshman year; her leadership is unquestioned, and her dedication to the team is unmatched. Baylee is proof that you don’t have to start as a track athlete; she was originally an accomplished gymnast. However, if you are talented and hard-working, success will come to you. All of them will be sorely missed by me and the team.”

The cupboard is hardly bare for the 2022 Lions team that will try to build off what the 2021 squad accomplished.

“Our future is still very bright,” Litwinovich said. “Melana is already being recruited as a pole vaulter and sprinter/jumper. She is going to have a lot of opportunities available to her. Amanda has excelled in whatever event she has attempted. I’m sure that she will also make a lot of noise in the recruiting circles. Olivia is so raw and young; she really has only scratched the surface.

“They are all talented, hard-working young ladies, and a lot of fun to be around. I honestly can’t wait for the indoor season to begin. I’m confident that we have girls on our roster that will be able to fill that final spot on the 4-by-100.”

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