City League track and field has long lived in the shadow of its WPIAL counterpart, but after shining in a big way Saturday in the largest local meet of the season to date, city athletes showed this could be a breakout spring for District 8.

It was hard not to notice the statement the City League made at the South Hills Classic at Baldwin, a meet that attracted a total of 33 schools and was shut down with a few events remaining due to high winds. Four city athletes captured gold medals, a quartet that included Obama Academy’s Ny’Asia Benton and Makalah Smalls-McCray, Allderdice’s Will Coleman and Brashear’s Dennis King.

“The City League has a lot of underrated athletes,” Benton said. “I feel like if we actually were taken more seriously, then we could prove ourselves.”

A season earlier, Benton was the lone City League athlete to win gold in any individual event. But it was a different story this year, with Smalls-McCray (long jump), Coleman (100-meter dash) and King (110 hurdles) joining Benton (100 hurdles) as gold medalists.

Allderdice’s Will Coleman (second from left) placed first in the 100-meter dash at the South Hills Classic at Baldwin High School. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Obama Academy, Allderdice and Brashear were the only City League schools at the meet, meaning each of them left with at least one champion. 

“We proved ourselves, not even just my school but everybody from the city who came,” said Benton, a senior who will continue her career at Robert Morris.

In addition to the four champions, Obama Academy’s Jazmine Herriot finished third in the 100 and Allderdice’s Owen Bluman placed third in the 1,600.

Benton, also a key player on Obama’s City League championship-winning basketball team, has won seven City League track and field titles in her career and has qualified for the PIAA championships twice. Last season, Benton’s then-teammate Leslie Manson placed second in the triple jump at the PIAA Class 3A championships, the best finish by a City League athlete since Peabody’s Pierre Carr won the 100 and 200 in 2009.

At the South Hills Classic, Benton ran the 100 hurdles in 15.49 seconds (No. 7 in the state this season), while her career best was the 15.21 she ran at the Mars Invitational last season.

“I want to hit the 14s. I’m close,” Benton said. “And I want to go to states and place first.”

Kucler twins shine

As twin sisters, North Allegheny sophomores Robin and Wren Kucler do just about everything together. Last week, they each posted a PA No. 1 at the same meet.

In a tri-meet at Shaler, Robin won the 1,600 with a time of 5 minutes, 3.93 seconds, while Wren topped the field in the 3,200 after running a 10:40.25. As of Sunday, those were the top times in the entire state this season, according to PA MileSplit.

This could be a big season for the Kuclers, both of whom were outstanding as freshmen. At last year’s WPIAL Class 3A championships, Wren placed second in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600, while Robin was third in the 3,200 and sixth in the 1,600.

Dunbar clearing bars

Fresh off of leading the Peters Township basketball team to new heights, Jack Dunbar was at the South Hills Classic reaching new heights in the high jump.

Dunbar’s leap of 6 feet was a career best and helped him earn second place at the meet. Upper St. Clair senior Cody Marn also cleared that height but edged out Dunbar due to fewer attempts.

Dunbar, a 6-foot-2 junior, had a previous best of 5-11½. He placed eighth at last year’s WPIAL Class 3A championships. On the court, Dunbar was the leading scorer for a Peters Township team that reached the WPIAL Class 5A final for the first time since 2009 and the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time since 1997.

Calvetti is ‘Mr. Versatility

It’s not every day you see an athlete excel in an array of events as wide as the 100, long jump and pole vault, but that’s exactly what Mt. Lebanon senior Tim Calvetti did at the Mt. Lebanon Invitational.

Calvetti put forth a special performance on his home track. Not only did he win each of those three events, but he also set personal records in each. Calvetti ran an 11.14 in the 100, leaped 20-3 in the long jump and went 13-1 in the pole vault.

Two other athletes won gold medals in three individual events. South Fayette senior Grace Howard took home titles in the 100 hurdles, high jump and long jump, while South Fayette junior Michael Gimigliano claimed first place in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and high jump. Howard’s leap of 5-5 in the high jump ranks second in the state this season.

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at