Colton Dean had a couple of near misses Wednesday at WPIAL Class 3A track and field championships, placing second in the 300-meter hurdles and third in the long jump.

So, Dean, a sophomore at Canon-McMillan, knew exactly what he needed to do in his final event of the day.

“Save the best for last,” he said.

In this case, Dean’s best earned him his first WPIAL gold medal.

Dean was the dean of the 200-meter dash, sprinting to a personal-best time of 21.68 seconds to take top honors in the meet at Slippery Rock University. After running a 21.78 in preliminaries, Dean, the top seed, edged Mt. Lebanon’s Tim Calvetti (21.79) and Connor Rychcik (21.84) to the win in the final.

“I just wanted to get it over with, and I knew I needed to get out of the blocks fast,” Dean said. “And then when I got to about the 100 mark, I had three kids next to me, I just knew I had to hit a next gear, lift my knees and just finish strong.”

Dean did finish strong on a day where he came oh-so close to winning a few other titles. Dean, who competes in the decathlon for his club team, finished second to North Hills’ Gamaliel Mogire in the 300 hurdles and third behind Butler’s Luke Campbell and Seneca Valley’s Jayden Price in the long jump. Mogire (39.52) narrowly edged Dean (39.55) in the 300 hurdles, while Dean (21-9¼) fell just 1¼ inches short of Campbell (21-10½) in the long jump. Dean also placed 10th in the javelin.

But Dean wasn’t the only member of his family Wednesday to win gold. His twin sister, Bryce, ran a leg on Canon-McMillan’s 400 relay team that took first. Bryce also competed in the 100, 300 hurdles and 1,600 relay.

Said Colton, “I definitely see a bright future for her.”

New Castle’s Kaevon Gardner won the Class 3A boys 100-meter dash at the WPIAL Class 3A track and field championships Wednesday at Slippery Rock University. (Brad Everett/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Zoom zoom

It’s only appropriate that the fastest kid in the WPIAL is nicknamed “Zoom.” New Castle sophomore Kaevon “Zoom” Gardner zoomed his way to a Class 3A title in the 100-meter dash courtesy of a personal-best time of 10.70.

“I was very excited,” Gardner said. “I was screaming a little bit. I was real hyped. My boys got me. They boosted me up.”

Gardner, the No. 1 seed in the event, ran the second-fastest time in the semifinals, as his 10.80 was topped by Canon-McMillan’s Austyn Winkleblech, a Pitt baseball recruit who ran a scorching 10.62. But in the final, Gardner edged Winkleblech (10.73), Woodland Hills freshman Scoop Smith (10.76) and Mt. Lebanon’s Tim Calvetti (10.79).

Gardner, who finished in seventh as a freshman, is a starting running back and defensive back on the New Castle football team, only he doesn’t play on the school’s highly successful basketball team. Now Gardner has a WPIAL gold medal just like some of his buddies have in basketball.

Said Gardner, “They were telling me I better come here and show out.”

Murray bounces back

Peyton Murray’s day began with disappointment but ended with a title. Murray, Hempfield’s standout junior thrower, hoped to double in the shot put and discus, but that plan was thwarted when he was edged by Connellsville’s Nathan Reese in the shot put. Reese produced a heave of 52 feet, 5.5 inches, while Murray finished second (52-0½). Adding to Murray’s frustration was that his final throw would have been good enough to win, he said, only he was called for foul. 

“They marked it anyway just in case and they kind of told me I won, which I was little upset about because I fouled it,” Murray said.

So, when the discus came around, Murray knew he needed to regroup quickly.

“I was upset about it and had to get happy again for the discus,” he said.

Murray, who holds the longest throw in the state this season (182-1), responded with a throw of 169-5 to claim the discus title for the second consecutive year. He had a winning throw of 162-6 a season earlier. Penn-Trafford’s Matthew Sarnowski finished second (166-1).

A Puhalla three-peat

Moon’s Jacob Puhalla set a meet record when he won the 800 at the 2022 WPIAL championships. Puhalla didn’t top that time Wednesday, but he did claim his third title in the event in as many seasons.

Puhalla earned a WPIAL three-peat by finishing in 1:53.38, about two seconds faster than runner-up J.P. Byrnes of Central Catholic (1:55.45). Puhalla’s time fell right in between his times the past two years when he ran a 1:56.21 in 2021 and his record 1:51.49 a year ago.

“As long as I get the win, I’m pretty satisfied going to states with a pretty good seed, I would assume,” said Puhalla, a Louisville recruit. “It seemed like the times were slow today because of the wind. Not a horrible race, especially after that 1,600.”

Puhalla didn’t fare as well in the 1,600, as he finished fourth courtesy of a time of 4:15.99. Butler’s Drew Griffith had a winning time of 4:09.53.

Two for Griffith

Speaking of Griffith, the Butler standout was the only Class 3A boy to win two individual titles. In addition to the 1,600, Griffith, a junior and Notre Dame recruit, also won the 3,200. Griffith’s time of 9:04.80 edged Ringgold’s Ryan Pajak, who finished in 9:05.65. No other runner came within 18 seconds of those two. Griffith was also a member of Butler’s 3,200 relay team, which placed sixth.

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