SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — As Brownsville’s Jolena Quarzo stood on top of the podium waiting to have yet another PIAA gold medal placed around her neck, she looked down and saw a familiar face holding the prize — her older sister.
“Having her at the podium, it just meant so much,” Jolena said of Gionna, a two-time PIAA gold medalist.
Saturday was a family affair for some of the WPIAL’s top girls athletes. Not only did Quarzo add to her family’s gold medal collection, but so did Mt. Lebanon’s Logan St. John Kletter, who joined her father as a state champion. Also in attendance at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium were Avonworth graduates and former PIAA champions Hunter and Hayden Robinson, whose sister, Hayzes, produced a fourth-place finish in an event they both won.
St. John Kletter was emotional after winning the Class 3A 3,200-meter run in 10 minutes, 12.86 seconds, a meet record and the second-fastest time in WPIAL history. Her father, Todd Kletter, ran on Mt. Lebanon’s PIAA championship-winning 3,200 relay team in 1990.
“I saw him over there when I was crossing the finish line, and I’m really happy to make him proud,” said St. John Kletter, who helped the WPIAL go 1-2-3-4-5 in the event. Pine-Richland’s Natalie McLean finished second and Montour’s Harley Kletz third, while North Allegheny twins Robin and Wren Kucler placed fourth and fifth.
It capped a tremendous junior year for St. John Kletter, who won a WPIAL cross country title, a state indoor track title, a WPIAL outdoor track title, and now a PIAA track title. And it comes after she missed nearly all of her sophomore outdoor season with a foot injury.
“I didn’t know if I could ever get back to this,” she said.
Meanwhile, it was all GoGo for JoJo again Saturday. Jolena Quarzo, a senior who will attend N.C. State, just like her sister, claimed the fifth PIAA gold medal of her career and her third in a row in the Class 2A 3,200-meter run courtesy of a winning time of 10:21.29 seconds. That topped runner-up Delaney Dumm of Forest Hills by nine seconds. Friday, Quarzo won the 1,600 for the second year in a row.
“She’s my best friend,” Jolena said of Gionna, who made the trip from Jacksonville, Fla., where she was competing in the NCAA East Regional. “Having her come and surprise me, and then being at the podium today, just meant so much to me.”
The Quarzo sisters have now won the PIAA Class 2A 3,200 five years in a row, and their overall PIAA gold medal count stands at seven.
“I think we put a lot not only on Brownsville history, but WPIAL history,” Jolena said. “I have a lot of pride for being in the WPIAL and from Brownsville, and so does my sister. So to put our names out there, coming from a really small school, that doesn’t happen very often. Just to come out here and put our name out there for the last five years, that just means a lot.”
Hayzes Robinson wasn’t able to join her sisters as a PIAA champion, but she came close. And considering she’s a junior, she’ll likely get another shot next season. Hunter Robinson won five PIAA titles and Hayden one. Each won the 100, an event in which Hayzes ran Saturday. She finished in 12.31, placing her in fourth behind champion Tatum Norris of Susquehanna Community, who ran a 12.19. Later in the day, Hayzes claimed an eighth-place finish in the 200 with a time of 25.80.
“It means a lot,” Hayzes said of her sisters being there rooting her on, “but it would have meant a lot more if I had won.”
No three-peat for Johns
Quaker Valley senior Nora Johns fell short of becoming the first girl in more than a decade to win the 300 hurdles three years in a row. Johns placed fifth in Class 2A after running a time of 46.81. Midd-West’s Camryn Pyle won with a mark of 44.80.
Johns said she has not been running at 100%. She pulled a quadricep muscle a few days before the WPIAL championships and said she was really hurting Friday when she ran a 46.64 to qualify as the No. 7 seed out of preliminaries. She said she felt a little better Saturday, but her times were much slower than the 45.07 and 44.78 she ran to win the event the previous two seasons.
“I just tried to do my best,” Johns said. “There’s always going to be someone faster than you out there. I was just going to do my best, and whatever the outcome is the outcome is.”
Tapper comes up short
One of the top throwers in WPIAL history will have to settle for three career PIAA gold medals, not four. A day after winning her second consecutive PIAA Class 3A shot put title, Hempfield star and Michigan recruit Liz Tapper fell just shy of winning a second consecutive discus title. Tapper’s best throw came on her sixth and final attempt when she posted a heave of 155 feet, 8 inches. But that wasn’t enough to beat Warwick’s Ella Lucas, a South Carolina recruit who registered a top throw of 163-9. Tapper’s personal best in the event is 164-4, which ranks second in WPIAL history.
Campbell again queen of sprints
Three seasons. Three state 100-meter titles. Three state 200-meter titles. Let’s just say Laila Campbell is quite the talent. Campbell, who attends District 3 Spring Grove, three-peated in both the Class 3A 100 and 200 on Saturday. Campbell ran the 100 in 11.56 and the 200 in 23.54. She’s considered one of the top junior sprinters in the country. Upper St. Clair senior Dani Prunzik went head-to-head with Campbell in both races, finishing fourth in the 100 (12.12) and sixth in the 200 (24.88). Prunzik was the runner-up in the 100 her junior season.
Heavy on silver
While Quarzo and St. John Kletter were the only WPIAL girls to strike gold Saturday, local athletes captured seven silver medals. In addition to Pine-Richland’s McLean (Class 3A 3,200) and Hempfield’s Tapper (Class 3A discus), the other silver medalists from the WPIAL were Laurel’s Tori Atkins (Class 2A 400), Eden Christian’s Hope Haring (Class 2A 800), Quaker Valley’s Jay Olawaiye (Class 2A triple jump), North Allegheny’s Alaina Fantaski (Class 3A javelin) and Winchester Thurston’s Class 2A 1,600 relay team that consisted of DaShae Cochran, Octavia Chitty, Cyd Kennard, and Charlotte Brake-Hoffman.