PHOTO GALLERY | Richland's Garnett repeats as PIAA girls shot put champion

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. – For a second straight year, Sasha Garnett’s shot put throw was as good as gold at the PIAA Track and Field Championship Meet Saturday.

The Richland High School senior repeated as champion in the Class 2A girls shot put with a throw of 43-7 ½ at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.

“I feel like I definitely threw a little bit better last year,” Garnett said. “But I think with the weather being so hot, a lot of people being wore out after their second throw, so I did what I could do and I’m proud of myself.”

A Penn State University track recruit, Garnett built on an impressive three-year resume that includes 2023’s golden effort (45-5 ¾) in the shot, and a bronze medal during her sophomore season in 2022 (39-10).

She also took back-to-back silver medals in the PIAA discus competition, including Friday’s second place in that event.

“I think the biggest thing I had to focus on was just being consistent and letting my body do the work, being in the right body positions,” Garnett said. “Having good warm-up throws. Just everything mixed in to stay consistent and stay over the 40-foot mark.”

Garnett had a 41-3 ½ on her first throw and fouled on her second.

She hit the eventual winner with 43-7 ½ on her third throw.

She also had a solid 43-6 ½ on her fifth attempt and two other tosses over 41 feet among her final three throws.

“I think my feet were correct, I could drive up on the shot and punch it in the air,” Garnett said.

“It was like straight up and kind of down the middle. I think that was a really good throw.”

Double play: Conemaugh Township’s Izzy Slezak made the medal stand twice on Saturday, with a silver medal in the 200-meter dash as the highlight. The junior also placed fifth in the 100-meter dash earlier in the day.

“I’m happy that I did better than I did last year,” said Slezak, whose best 2023 performance was an eighth-place finish in the 100.

“That’s my goal every year, come back and do better than I did the year before.”

In the 200 Saturday, Slezak had to work for second place, as she emerged from a tight group coming out of the final turn to challenge eventual winner Amirah Crabbe of West Catholic.

A freshman, Crabbe finished in 25.35. Slezak had a 25.48 and placed ahead of third-place Piper Hoprich (25.57) of Wellsboro Area and fourth-place Viktorya Luckenbach (25.60) of Pine Grove Area.

“Coming off the turn I saw competition all around me,” Slezak said.

“Eventually I did pass two girls to my left. That’s when I knew I needed to just lay it out, everything I had. I put all I had there.

“I’m OK with second.”

In the 100 Slezak finished in 12.32 and at fifth place was three spots higher than her showing as a sophomore at the state meet.

Avonworth’s Hayzes Robinson won the 2A girls 100 in 12.11.

“Last year, I got eighth so I’m just excited that I was able to go in and do better than I did last year,” Slezak said. “I also did better than I was seeded (sixth), just by one place. I’m proud. I definitely feel like I’ve worked pretty hard this year and I’m hoping to do better next year. Little steps.”

Red Devils relay tradition: The Central Cambria girls 3200-meter relay squad upheld the Red Devils longstanding tradition of reaching the medal stand in the event every year since 2016.

“It’s awesome to be a part of this tradition,” sophomore Alaina Long said after Central Cambria placed eighth in a time of 9:49.92. “I’m speechless almost. There is such a reputation that goes along with it.

“I’m just so proud I get to be a part of it. My team, I’m so proud of all of us.”

After winning gold medals in 2023 and 2022, the ninth-seeded Red Devils relay of junior Morgan Brandis, Long and junior twin sisters Abigail and Alaina Sheehan climbed one spot above their seeding on Saturday.

“I’m so proud to be a part of this team,” said Brandis, who with Long was a newcomer to the relay squad.

“We all did so awesome. We went out there and ran our hardest. We got what we wanted and that’s all that matters.”

The previous two years, the Sheehan sisters were on the PIAA championship-winning 3200 relay with Annaliese Niebauer and Abbie George, who each graduated after the 2023 race.

“Just carrying on the tradition,” Abigail Sheehan said. “Me and my sister were part of the back-to-back state championship teams the past two years.

“We had big roles to fill with the seniors leaving, and I think we maintained that well. We just trusted each other and that’s the biggest thing when you’re part of a relay.”

Central Cambria won PIAA gold in the 3200 relay in 2023, 2022, 2017 and 2016.

The Red Devils placed second in 2021 and 2018, and they were fourth in 2019. COVID-19 canceled the 2020 season.

“It just feels so special to keep the tradition alive,” Alaina Sheehan said. “Being on the podium is such an amazing feeling, especially to do it with my best friends who I spend most of my life with, training hard.

“It’s special.”

Freshmen finishers: Three area freshmen girls each placed in the Class 2A 3200-meter run.

“I don’t really care about freshman, senior, junior and all of that stuff,” said Bedford’s Chloe May, the District 5 champion, who placed sixth in the PIAA with a time of 11:12.36. “It definitely means a lot to me to get a medal. It’s not easy to get them.”

Richland’s Natalia Mavridis finished in seventh place at 11:14.54.

“It means a lot to me because I was really just trying to get placement,” said Mavridis, who qualified for the state meet as the District 6 third-place finisher.

“I think everyone here did really good today.

“I learned a lot,” Mavridis added. “I learned it’s all about good sportsmanship, and I think that a lot of the girls here today have that.”

For the second straight day, Somerset’s Emily Fisher made the podium with an eight-place finish, as she ran the 3200 in 11:16.89. Fisher was eighth in the 1600 Friday.

“It was a really great opportunity. I’m really happy,” said Fisher, who placed second in District 5 and advanced by meeting the state-qualifying time.

“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t think I would make it to states. I’m really happy that I did make it here and I was able to compete.

“Working hard for the medals meant a lot to me.”

Central sophomore Lanee Berkhimer, the District 6 runner-up, placed fifth in the state with a time of 11:09.81, giving the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference four state place-winners in the event.

Shade Side Academy senior Chelsea Hartman won in 10:37.32, followed by runner-up Addie Cohen of Wyomissing Area at 10:57.10.

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.