SHIPPENSBURG - Athletes from all three Class AA schools in the county brought home medals from the PIAA Track and Field Championships this weekend.
It's been a storybook season for Kalil Slaughter and, despite a fall in the final of the 200-meter dash, he brought two medals back to Sheffield High School.
Slaughter had fans from all over the state at Shippensburg University on Saturday, where the junior finished .04 seconds from a state championship in the 100-meter dash - his bread-and-butter event.
Photos by Pat Waksmunski
Photo of finish
Sheffield High School’s Kalil Slaughter, middle and photo below, sprints across the finish line of the PIAA Class AA 100-meter dash semifinal on Saturday at Shippensburg University. Trenton Coles, of Clairton, is at left.
Slaughter, who transferred from Abraxas detention center to Sheffield High School, had a ton of family and friends from his hometown of Philadelphia and from his new town in Sheffield rooting him on in person.
"He might have had the most fans down there for one kid," said Sheffield boys track coach Bryan Gould.
Slaughter always runs like he has something to prove, but it was the first time some of his family has seen him run, since he has only been running track competitively for three seasons.
Slaughter, a District 9 champion in the 100 and 200 last week, advanced to Saturday's PIAA semifinals with a school-record 10.90 time in the 100 on Friday. That tied the top seed, Clairton junior Trenton Coles, for the best preliminary time.
Slaughter ran an 11.19-second 100 in the semifinals on Saturday morning - the second best time out of 16 runners - to advance to Saturday afternoon's final.
Slaughter ended up with a silver medal with a time of 11.19 seconds, just behind Coles' 11.15 seconds, and he's extremely happy about it.
"This has been my main goal since the day after (last year's state meet)," said Slaughter, who also qualified for states in the 100 and 200 last year as a sophomore. "This has been where I wanted to get to."
Last year, Slaughter didn't make it to the starting line in time for the 200-meter PIAA semifinals, and was forced to scratch from the event. By rule in a no-scratch meet, this meant he had to scratch from his other events - the 100 final, losing a guaranteed state medal.
A sad story to some, but Kalil used it as motivation. He broke school records in the 100 and 200 and qualified for states in four events. He won the District 9 title this year in the 100 and 200, and was part of the D-9 champion 4 X 100 boys relay team. He also qualified for states in the long jump.
"He went down with a purpose and he was going full boar until the end," said Gould. "Kalil gives you 110 percent and wherever the places fall, they fall. He truly gave it his all. When he fell in the 200 final, he got back up and was closing in one the sixth- and seventh-place kids."
Gould said, if Kalil competes to make a name for himself, these are the types of things you notice.
"Second in the state is outstanding, but to finish the 200 the way he finished it is even more impressive to me," said Gould.
After a 200-meter semifinal time of 22.44 seconds, Slaughter finished eighth in the final in 25.96 seconds - good enough to medal. Coles again won the state title in 22.33 seconds.
Slaughter said the starting block slipped when he started and he hit his head before getting up and finishing the race strong. He finished 25th out of 27 in the long jump in the morning session on Saturday.
"Talking to him on the way home, the accomplishment is tremendous and outstanding, but the bad news is Trenton Coles is back next year," said Gould. "Knowing there is a guy out there that can beat you, we'll be looking at doing some work on those little technique things that he still needs to work on. He knows now how those fractions of a second can mean the difference (between a state championship or second place)."
Slaughter said he's back to the weight room on Tuesday.
"I feel like I did this, but I'm not done yet," said Slaughter. "I've got way more to prove."
Slaughter also set the school record in the 4 X 100 relay on Friday with Michael Torres, Dylan Reynolds and Eric Allen. He's the first from Sheffield High School to medal at states since 2007 when Jason Borst earned a medal in the 300 hurdles.
It's been even longer for Youngsville High School, and it was the first time 30-year boys head coach Jeff Manelick took a relay team to states.
He said the 4 X 400 relay team of Max Lalwani, Bob McCoy, Nathan Smith and Rocco Gatta ran the best two times of the season this weekend at states. The team's fourth-place time - which won their heat - of 3:24.97 was a school record. So the Eagles, who were seeded ninth at the start, were guaranteed a state medal out of the eight teams at Saturday's 4 X 400 relay final.
"The time they ran on Friday would have been like second on Saturday," said Manelick. "Dropping a couple seconds (on Friday) from their previous best was a big thrill. To come back that second day with an equal performance is a challenge.
"It was still a tight race all the way," he said.
Youngsville finished sixth in the final in 3:26.38. Trinity won the Class AA title in 3:24.90.
"They were a little bit disappointed that they didn't equal or better their fourth position going in," said Manelick, "but we went down seeded ninth. To get four guys to have their best splits (in the same race) is very difficult.
"I've had individuals, and I've taken more than one individual to state track, but never a relay team like that, so it was definitely special," said Manelick.
On Friday, Eisenhower's Alex Yaegle finished fifth in the state in Class AA in javelin.
Warren's Summer Walter competed in the girls Class AAA 100-meter and 300 hurdles, and Warren's relay team of Luke Wortman, Jordan Willetts, Matt Stapleford and Allen Burnett competed in the Class AAA 4 X 400 relay.