Western Wayne’s Annie Skirpan sported just the slightest grin as she closed in on the finish line in the 1,600 relay, the marquee and final race of the 64th Jordan Relays on May 2 at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
Just behind her, Abington Heights freshman Gianna Sabatini came charging, closing the gap.
They came across with Skirpan first and Sabatini second.
Both earned gold medals as Western Wayne won the Class 2A race and Abington Heights the Class 3A.
It was a fitting way to end the event as both teams also won their respective classifications’ team titles for the third straight season.
Abington Heights scored 50 points for the Class 3A crown. Pittston Area finished second with 29 points and Wallenpaupack was third with 26. Western Wayne won the 2A title.
“When I was in junior high, I really looked up to the girls on this team,” Sabatini said. “To even be a part of this team and to do well in the relays is really amazing.”
Abington Heights stormed to the team championship by winning the final four Class 3A races.
Hannah Hughes, Dani Beamish, Mariel Curra and Sabatini won the 1,200 medley in 2:55.18. Abigail Marion, Elyse Simakaski, Modupe Osuntokun and Hughes won the 3,200 relay in 9:58.44. Anna Scoblick, Megan Malone, Allison Dammer and Sabatini won the 1,600 medley in 4:26.73. Beamish, Anna Marchetta, Hughes and Sabatini came in at 4:09.21 in the 1,600 relay.
“It’s amazing, because we won four of the six and that shows how much depth this team has,” Beamish said. “My freshman year, we didn’t win this, and it was because I missed an exchange zone and I learned a lot from that.
“This is really great to be a part of this and continue the legacy.” On the boys side, Abington Heights’ team of Shervin Mokhtari, Sam Kalmanowicz, Rob Horvath and Antonio Maletta won the 1,200 medley in Class 3A in 2:30.47.
Comets boys win
Abington Heights needed a jolt.
Luke Abdalla provided one.
His spark in the 400-meter run unleashed a three-event barrage of points that catapulted the Comets to an 87-63 win over Scranton on April 29 in a clash of undefeated Lackawanna Track Conference Division I boys track and field teams.
Abington Heights captured its first championship since 2014 and ended the Knights’ reign after four seasons.
In a tight battle, Abdalla used a fast start and a strong finish to cross the finish line first in the 400 in 54.4 seconds and was followed closely by teammate Damon Martin for an 8-1 advantage.
“We all knew this was a very important meet,” said Abdalla, who is in his first varsity season with the Comets. “We have Antonio (Maletta), and a bunch of guys who supported me and just told me to dial in and run my race and it would all work out in the end.
“This means a lot. Besides the 400, I just thought we all did everything we could as a team to win this championship.”
That 1-2 finish gave Abington Heights a lift.
Then, Maletta and Shervin Mokhtari finished first and second in the 300 hurdles for another 8-1 scoring edge in the event.
Ethan Mattox, Conor Kryeski and Noah Bolus capped the onslaught with a 1-2-3 finish in the 800 to sweep nine points that gave the Comets a commanding 25-2 edge in those three events, a margin too daunting to overcome.
It reversed a 19-18 Scranton lead and put Abington Heights in control, 43-21.
“We knew that Scranton would be a huge meet, it always is,” said Mattox, who won in a time of 2:06.1. “From the 3,200 relay all the way down, we just had guys leaving it all out there on the track.
“We always practice together in the 800 and we always push each other in practice and it showed in the meet.”
In addition to his 39.1 effort in the 300 hurdles, which was a season-best in the conference, Maletta added wins in the 110 hurdles and triple jump, which he captured on his third and final attempt with a mark of 41 feet, 2 inches.
Ryan Flynn added wins in the shot put and discus, and Nicholas Klapatch won the pole vault for the Comets.
“Winning a championship after a drought, and I remember the caliber of runners we had the last time we won, and even last year we had a lot of great guys, is really important to us,” Maletta said. “We really pushed that team mentality and we had everyone giving their all in practice and developing rivalries within our team on the track.
“This proves that it can lead to something amazing.”
Josh Christianson had wins in the 1,600, edging Abington Heights’ Stephen Haggerty with a late sprint, and the 3,200, to lead Scranton.
Lady Comets win
Abington Heights rolled to its 78th straight dual-meet win and 13th straight LTC Division I championship with a 109-36 win over Scranton.
Dani Heine, a senior who is headed to the University of New Hampshire, had wins in the pole vault and long jump, while Calista Marzolino, a senior who is going to Lehigh University, won the 100 hurdles, the high jump and triple jump to lead the Lady Comets.
“It is sad to leave and this being our last dual meet, but we have such a great group of girls here who will continue this legacy,” Heine said. “It feels great to win the pole vault, and also contribute to the championship in the long and triple jumps all season.
“It was nice to see everything come together for everybody and we all want to keep that momentum heading into the postseason.”
The top-seeded Comets rolled past North Pocono in the quarterfinals of the District 2 -4 Class 3A tournament, 5-0.
Rory Harris returned from injury and led a sweep in the singles matches for Abington Heights. Varun Inyengar and Sam Weis also posted straight-sets wins for the unbeaten Comets.
On April 30, Iyengar won at No. 1 singles and Abington Heights swept the doubles matches to finish off a perfect regular season and win the Lackawanna League boys tennis championship with a 3-2 victory over West Scranton.
Chance VanSickle had six aces and eight digs to lead Abington Heights over Elk Lake, 3-0.
James McGrail had seven kills for the Comets and Matt Pacyna had six kills and 14 assists.
Leia Parry, Erin Albright and Allison Murray each had a goal for Abington Heights, which fell to Delaware Valley, 11-4, in a Wyoming Valley Conference match.
Scott Gilbert threw a complete game with eight strikeouts to lead the Comets past Scranton, 6-1.
Joey Barcia had two hits, including a home run.
Bailey White slammed a three-run home run in the fifth and Catherine Anne Kupinski added a solo blast to lead the unbeaten Lady Comets past Scranton, 9-1.
Nina Kozar scored three and drove in two for Abington Heights.