When I interviewed at the Observer-Reporter, nobody warned me about the Washington-Greene County Coaches Track and Field Meet.
About spending 10 hours covering event, another few writing about it, probably all of them in the rain or cold or both. But I'm excited. It's going to be fun. The wife, Mrs. Varsity Letters, may even make an appearance, Chipotle (hopefully) in hand.
Friday's print edition includes a feature on Wash High's Shai McKenzie and a killer photo from Wash High student Andrew Gregg, but I'd like to use this space here to offer a few more storylines to watch.
Can Alyssa Wise duplicate last season's dominance?
Washington sophomore Alyssa Wise won four events at Canon-McMillan's Memorial Stadium last year: the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, as well as running on the victorious 4x100 relay team. Heard a rumor that she even won the 50/50 -- kidding, of course. Those times: 12.52, 26.53, 1:00.43 and 52.24, respectively.
I talked to Wise tonight and asked whether she thought she could repeat such an awesome performance.
"That's the goal," Wise said. "I hope so."
We'll see. Know this: Her 100 times have been in the 11.8/11.9 range, 11.8 yesterday during a dual meet loss to Waynesburg. If we get a good day Saturday, look out.
"I had a great day yesterday," Wise said. "Hopefully I can run like that (Saturday)."
Balzer looking for better starts
Another returning winner on the girls side is Chartiers-Houston senior Amanda Balzer, an Allegheny College recruit. Balzer snagged gold in the 100 and 300 hurdles here last year with times of 16.45 and 50.00.
Count Balzer among the group excited to get things going tomorrow.
"Especially the fact that I have to defend my titles, it's making it a little more important," Balzer said.
Balzer said her primary focus so far this season has been her starts, apparently always a bit of an Achilles heel.
"Starts have always been an issue with me," Balzer said. "I've never had a strong start. Winning that first hurdle is definitely something that I've been focusing on."
Other returning winners:
Girls 3,200: Kirsten McMichael, So., Ringgold, 12:01.58
Girls 4x100: Washington (India March, Aliyah Moye, Kiera Goolsby, Alyssa Wise, Brooke Prigg, Tiarra Campbell) 52.24
Girls 4x400: Kaitlyn Janusey, Kristen Czajowski, Cassy Seccunda, Mallory Finch, Marisa McKnight) 4:21.93
Girls 4x800: Peters Township, 10:21.02
Girls discus: Rachel Bellhy, Jr., Fort Cherry, 142-02
Girls shot-put: Kathleen Davey, So., Canon-McMillan, 34-02
Co-ed 800 relay: Washington (DeQuay Isbell, Aliyah Moye, Tiarra Campbell, Mijerean Witcher, Quorteze Levy), 1:50.58
Can Canon-Mac repeat on boys side?
Canon-McMillan won the Class AAA boys title (and overall) with 180 points. Wash High was the best in Class AA and second to the Big Macs with 172. Peters Township trailed both, and C-M in Class AAA, with 93.
Peters Township won the Class AAA girls title with 136.5, edging C-M by 12 points. Fort Cherry was the best in Class AA at 100.
But the Canon-Mac boys lost Shawn Johnson, who won the high, long and triple jumps, as well as Kenyadda Brown, who was victorious in the 100 and 200. The Big Macs do return Alec Rideout (won discus at 143-11; shot put in 48-04; and was second in the javelin at 147-02). Mark Tilley won the 1,600 last year as a junior in 4:41.02.
Other returning winners include Burgettstown Marco Bennett (1,600, 10:34.39), as well the following relay teams:
Boys 4x100: Washington (Shai McKenzie, Chivar Brown, Darius Spinks, Matt Brower, Dustin Fuller and Mijerean Witcher) 43.70
Boys 4x400: Canon-McMillan (Justin Gibson, Michael Burchesky, Ryan Davey, Brandon Mayberry, Caden Meier) 3:34.20
Boys 4x800: Canon-McMillan 8:30.10