Victory at Tri-State meet helps Thomas Jefferson’s Wagner build toward WPIALs

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Friday, April 19, 2019 | 8:48 PM


Fresh off her banner basketball season at Thomas Jefferson, junior Molly Wagner exploded out of the gate to start the outdoor track and field season.

Wagner, one of the top sprinters in the WPIAL, took first place in the girls 200-meter dash at the Tri-State Track Coaches Association outdoor championships April 13 at West Mifflin.

“Molly had a great outing,” coach Bill Paull said. “She is the strongest and fastest I’ve ever seen her. I’m excited to see her go against some nonsection competition in our upcoming invitationals because the sky is the limit for her. The better the competition, the better she seems to perform, which is great this early in the season.

“She has had a great role model in her brother Zach. She has seen what he has done to get to the state meet, and I think it’s her time. She has already clocked some state standard times in the 100 and 200, and has even surpassed them.”

Wagner posted a winning time of 25.76 seconds in the 200 at the Tri-State meet. She also placed fourth in the 100 in 12.76.

“Track is without a doubt my passion,” she said. “Going into the meet you never really know what to expect, and you just have to be prepared to do your very best and push your limits to the max. Before any meet, I always set my expectations high for myself and just get it in my head I can do this.

“However, with so many talented athletes out there, sometimes I fall short, but I never let that get in my head. I just continue to work on ways to improve my endurance and form. I have met so many wonderful and talented athletes along the way; it’s nice that although everybody wants to win, we are happy for each other when we accomplish something.”

Wagner was a starting forward on the TJ girls basketball team, which finished as the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up and advanced to the Final Four in the state tournament.

Her focus now is squarely on the WPIAL and PIAA track and field finals.

“I just want to keep improving my times,” she said. “One long-term goal of mine is to make it to states before I graduate. District 7 is hard to move on from because of the talented athletes, so for me that would be a great honor.”

Molly’s older brother Zach, a senior, was a double medalist at the TSTCA meet, securing seventh place in the boys 100 and 200 in 11.42 and 23.11.

“Zach is battling some injuries, but he was still able to pull off seventh place in the 100 and 200,” said Paull, who shares the TJ coaching duties with Kevin Gennaula.

Two other TJ medalists were seniors Raelin Krueger and Jordan Phiri, who placed fourth in the girls javelin toss and boys 400, respectively.

Krueger unleashed a throw of 110 feet, 8 inches; Phiri crossed the finish line in 51.59.

“Raelin had a great performance, throwing her longest of the season,” Paull said. “She has plenty of time to keep progressing to the state standard mark.

“Jordan finally produced a time we all knew he could. So with hard work and dedication, he is an athlete that could surprise many at the WPIAL meet.”

Krueger also ended up ninth in the discus event; Phiri also placed 10th in the 200.

One other medal-worthy showing for the Jaguars was claimed by the girls 400-meter relay unit. Wagner, junior Cathryn Coles, and seniors Adara Getsy and Alyssa Natter combined on a 51.42 time.

“There are two first-year seniors on that relay, Alyssa and Adara, who have really brought a tremendous amount of talent, work ethic and positivity to our team,” Paull said, “and we only wish we had them earlier.”

Other top performances for the TJ girls team were turned in by Getsy, 10th in the 100, 12th in the 100 hurdles; freshman Alayna Sluk, 10th in the triple jump, 11th in the 300 hurdles; freshman Kaylee Rehak, 12th in the 300 hurdles; sophomore Sophia Natter, 15th in the javelin; and sophomore Cindy Obiero, 15th in the shot put.

For the TJ boys, junior Brandon Sluk ended up 12th in the shot put.

“At this point of the season, it is important for any athlete looking to do well at WPIALs or states to stay healthy,” Paull said, “and continue to get as much competition as possible.”

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