Meadville’s best now look to be among Pennsylvania’s best as Paige Kassab, Chaykala Lindsey and Heather Sternby compete in the PIAA Class AAA Track and Field Championships, which run Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.
Kassab, a senior, is making her fourth straight trip to the tournament. This time around, she qualified in three events — the high jump, the long jump and the triple jump.
Going into the high jump, Kassab is among 13 athletes with a state qualifying jump of 5-foot-3, which she recorded at the District 10 championship meet on May 16.
Kassab’s best leap of the season, however, is 5-7. And that mark happens to be the top jump in this year’s state field. Ambridge Area junior India McCoy won the District 7 title with that exact hop.
That leads Meadville head coach Carl Roznowski to think that anything is possible at the state event.
“(Paige) knows she can do better,” said Meadville head coach Carl Roznowski. “She knows her best height is 5-7. Now what she has to do is take it down there. They’re all so close together. The separation from third place to eighth place will probably be determined by number of misses because they’re all at the same height.”
It will also be a pretty tight contest in the triple jump.
Kassab is ranked fourth in the event with a D-10 title-winning jump 37-10.75. She’s only half an inch from the distance recorded by third-place Ahmenah Richardson of Milton-Hershey, and under four inches from second-place Katie Catania of Methacton.
“You’re talking half an inch difference in some of these cases,” said Roznowski. “And on that day, it can mean anything because they’re so close.”
Kassab and the rest of the field will be chasing Chambersburg junior Marshay Ryan, who tops the triple jump performance list with a leap of 39-8.5.
Kassab is also tied for 24th in the long jump. On her last jump at districts, she cleared the state qualifying standard of 17-3 by a half an inch.
Ryan is also the top long jumper at this year’s meet, leading the way with a jump of 18-9.5.
Sternby, meanwhile, will be making her first trip to the state meet. The sophomore is seeded 26th in the 200-meter dash thanks to her District 10 title-clinching time of 26.24, during which she edged Grove City’s Courtney Corbin by .13 seconds.
“That was beautiful,” Roznowski said about the D-10 race. “That’s the classic battle. That’s what you want to see — they’re nip and tuck all the way down. And that you come out on top, that’s even better.”
Sternby is quite capable of improving her time in the event. During the preliminary race at the D-10 meet, she ran a 26.02.
However, the competition will be stiff at the state meet. The performance list is topped by Central Dauphin East’s Deme’shia Davis, who qualified with a time of 24.26.
As for Lindsey, she is ranked 25th in the javelin with a distance of 119-3.
Roznowski believes that his senior thrower is ready to improve on that distance.
“This week she’s been throwing nice,” he said. “We worked on tweaking her technique and we’ll see what happens down there. All she needs to do is to pop a nice one. We’re looking for her to get into the upper 120s maybe low 130s. She has the ability. We hope that everything connects correctly and that she could have a good throw.”
The top seed in the javelin — Parkland’s Olivia Hassler — enters with a throw of 149-10.