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NTL TRACK & FIELD: NTL GIRLS HAVE HIGH SEEDS IN DISTRICTS, SPRINT EVENTS (2024-05-16)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
It could be a banner day for girls’ runners from the NTL at the District IV Championships, as distance runners and sprinters lead the way on the heat sheets.

Leading the way in the 3200 are defending champion, NEB’s Gracelyn Laudermilch (11:25), last year’s runner-up, Athens’ Sara Bronson (11:34.45), and top newcomer, Wellsboro’s Lauren Kosek (11:25.01).


Athens’ Ava Hughes (12:06.49) is another runner to watch in the distance race.


Despite winning the 3200 last year Laudermilch isn’t taking anything for granted.


That was last year, last year is last year,” she said. “I can’t really depend on that experience, it’s a new race, it’s a new year, and it’s anyone’s race, so I can’t really depend on that. I’ve got to in just as determined as I was last year.”


As for Bronson, the 2-mile has taken a bit of a back seat so far this season.


“I’ve run more hard miles this season, so I really really ready in that, but I’m ready to run fast in the 3200,” she said.


The two girls have been rivals since junior high, which seems fated since they were born on the same day, less than an hour apart.


“Its only like five minutes,” Bronson said. “It’s super good to have someone like Gracelyn to be able to run with.”


So it’s no surprise that they’ve had this success competing against one another.


“Sara’s amazing,” Laudermilch said. “I love racing her, we had a blast in the mile and 2-mile, talking between the races, hanging out. I think that it’s really special, what we have in the NTL. We have Sara, we have Lauren, we have Izzy, we have Anaiah, we’ve got Lilah, we’ve got Tori. We have so many, I can’t even name them all. We have so many girls that are so legit, and it’s a fun camaraderie. I believe that Sara and Lauren are going to medal in the 2-mile this year, I think the NTL is the strongest it’s ever been.”


Laudermilch medaled at states in the 3200 last year, with Bronson coming up just short, while Kosek is taking everything in as a freshman.


“I’m super excited, I’ve been looking forward to it all season,” Kosek said about her first district meet. 


She’s going to focus mostly on the 2-mile, but will have the 1600 later, too.


“It’s nice because that’ll be the first thing in the morning,” remarked Kosek.


She liked running with Bronson and Laudermilch at the NTL Championships.


“I was very happy that I kind of got a preview of what the district race is going to have,” she said. “I’m just really hoping to be able to run 11:35 and then maybe get top three.”


In the mile Laudermilch (5:08.82) is seeded second behind SCA’s Kate Moncavage (5:02.35). Bronson (5:13.12) and Kosek (5:27.14) are right there, along with Towanda freshman Isabella Larson (5:31.17).


“My goal is to run free, have fun, run with God and run to see what he has for me,” Laudermilch said. “I don’t really want to put pressure on the results that I have, because when you focus on results, then you don’t focus on the process, and then you don’t focus on the process, the results don’t come.”


There are five NTL runners in the fast heat of the 800: Laudermilch (2:22.43), Bronson (2:22.77), Larson (2:27.43), and the Williamson duo of Tori Stratton (2:30.41) and Raegan VanGorden (2:31.18).


With all this distance success there has to be a few 4x800 teams in the mix, and there are four from the NTL all with a shot to make states.


Athens (10:04.73) is seeded third, Towanda (10:08.87) is fourth, Williamson (10:18.33) is seeded fifth, and NEB (10:21.13) is seeded sixth.


“It’s super fun to run with those girls, and hopefully we get to states,” Bronson said about her 4x800.


Larson is also excited to see what her team can do.


“Our 4x800 is in a really good spot,” she said. “I’m excited to see how that turns out.”


She’s also looking forward to doing the mile and 3200 on Saturday.


“I’m just going to run my heart out for each event,” she said. “Make sure I’m staying hydrated.”


Wyalusing’s Olivia Haley returns as the defending champion in the 400, and is seeded third at 58.71 going in this year.


“It’s definitely a lot of pressure,” Haley said. “There are a lot of girls who were sub-60 this year, but I’m just going to try and do the best that I can and try to get that state qualifying time.”


District IV has had some of the best 400 times in the state this year, but Haley has hit state time multiple times this year and has experience on her side.


“Last year was very stressful, I didn’t go sub-60 until districts,” he remarked. “I feel a lot more prepared. I’ve been working really hard throughout the winter so I feel a lot more parred coming into the district meet this year than in past years.”


She’s also in the fast heat in the 200 in 26.30.


In the 100 the top three times are NTL with Wellsboro’s Piper Hoprich (12.20), Athens’ Abby Burgess (12.34), and Canton’s Daveian Crowley (12.71).


Burgess (26.07), Hoprich (26.36), and Crowley (26.71) are in the fast heat of the 200, while Burgess (1:00.46) and Crowley (1:00.91) are in the fast heat of the 400.


“I’m just going to try and run my best, and feel confident,” Crowley said. “I know it’s going to be a little rough, but I think it will be good for me.”


She’s in the same situation she was in last year, just on the borderline for states in all three events. Last year she came up just short in all the events, too.


“I feel a lot better in the 400 because I feel like I’ve progressed a lot,” said Crowley. 


She’s hoping the competition in the NTL will prepare for districts.


“I realize that running with Abby and Olivia, it’s made me a lot better already,” Crowley remarked.


Sayre’s Rose Shikanga (16.66) is one of the top seeds in the 100 hurdles, while in the 300 hurdles Troy’s Alyssa Parks (47.87) and Kylee Roy (49.61), and Athens’ Lizzie Gorsline (49.35) are in the fast heat.


In the high jump Parks (5-feet) and Wellsboro’s Annika Gehman (5-feet) are in the thick of things, while in the pole vault Canton’s Kendall Kitchen (10-feet, 6-inches) is the third seed. Towanda’s Marin Maynard (9-feet, 6-inches), Wyalusing’s Mia Wilcox (9-feet, 6-inches), and Parks (9-feet) are also in medal territory.


Gehman (16-feet, 4-inches), Athens’ Mya Thompson (16-feet, 4-inches), and Williamson’s Madalynn Bailey (16-feet, 6 1/2-inches) are in the top six seeds for the long jump.


Gehman (35-feet, 1-inch) is seeded second in the triple jump, an event she made states in last year. 


Canton record holder Alexis McRoberts (108-feet, 1-inch) is the fifth seed in the discus with Athens’ Emma Pernaselli (106-feet, 5-inches) seventh.


Pernaselli (113-feet, 6-inches) is seeded sixth in the javelin and eighth in the shot put at 33-feet, 10 1/2-inches.


In the 4x100 relay Wellsboro (52.30) is in the fast heat while Athens’ 4x400 relay (4:18.88) is in the fast heat.




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