Like the rest of Upper St. Clair’s young sprinters, Sadie Tomczyk said she looked up to Dani Prunzik a ton during her freshman season last spring.

The group witnessed Prunzik close out her terrific career by winning a third consecutive WPIAL Class 3A title in the 100-meter dash while adding a title in the 200, as well.

“She was a great help,” Tomczyk said. “I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her. She really helped me, especially in the beginning when I was very lost.”

Upper St. Clair might have lost Prunzik to graduation — she now runs at Penn State — but it looks like the Panthers might have already found her successor.

Tomczyk jump-started what could be a breakout sophomore season by winning titles in the 100 and 200 at last Saturday’s South Hills Classic at Baldwin. Tomczyk ran the 100 in 12.68 seconds and the 200 in 26.12, beating out Winchester Thurston sophomore Monroe Law (12.86 and 26.48) in both races. Law is a transfer from Franklin Regional who finished second to Prunzik in both events at last year’s WPIAL championships.

“I think it’s fantastic for her,” Upper St. Clair sprint coach Matt Cosgrove said of Tomczyk. “I thought Sadie did a phenomenal job. And having Monroe in there was fantastic. It was really exciting to have another top competitor there.”

Then a freshman, Tomczyk raced against Prunzik and Law in the WPIAL finals last year, finishing seventh in both the 100 and 200. Tomczyk also ran a leg on Upper St. Clair’s 400 relay team that won a silver medal. Prunzik was the lone senior on that relay team, as Tomczyk, Ashley Sanderson (now a senior) and Noor El Nokali (now a junior) are all back this season. Those three, along with sophomore Avery Bayer, led the Panthers to a win in the 400 relay at the South Hills Classic. In addition, Sanders finished third in the 200.

“We’ve got big shoes to fill just because [Dani] was such an amazing athlete and an amazing role model and leader, but it’s been a great season so far,” said Tomczyk, who was a longtime competitive cheerleader before giving that up just prior to high school.

Tomczyk said she was more of a distance runner in her early track days before falling in love with sprinting in seventh grade. Her personal bests in the 100 and 200 came at last year’s WPIAL championships when she ran a 12.51 in the 100 and 25.63 in the 200.

While Tomczyk is her own runner and will surely create her own path in her career, it’s worth noting that her top times are close to what Prunzik’s were at similar stages in their careers. Prunzik won the 100 and was second in the 200 at the South Hills Classic her sophomore season after running times of 12.35 and 26.02.

“It’s still early and there’s a lot of competitions left, but it should give her a confidence boost going into the rest of the season,” Cosgrove said.

Tomczyk’s next big test will come at Saturday’s Tri-State Track Coaches Association Championships at West Mifflin when her competition will include Law and South Fayette’s Olivia Renk, a senior who placed third in the 100 and 200 at last year’s WPIAL Class 3A championships.

State records in the Golden State

Butler’s Drew Griffith and Ringgold’s Ryan Pajak ran the fastest 3,200 times of their careers Saturday, marks that were so fast that the Notre Dame recruits traveled home from their meet in California knowing they had just etched their names in the Pennsylvania record book.

Running in the marquee event at the star-studded Arcadia Invitational, Griffith and Pajak were record-setters, running the 3,200 faster than any high school runner in Pennsylvania history. Griffith finished in third place after running a time of 8:37.43 and Pajak placed fourth with a time of 8:38.02. Both broke the previous record of 8:41.57 set by Archbishop Wood’s Gary Martin in 2022. 

Griffith and Pajak’s times also rank among the best all time nationally. According to MileSplit, Griffith now ranks 10th in the event and Pajak 11th. A whopping 37 runners broke nine minutes in the race. BYU recruit Daniel Simmons of American Fork, Utah, topped the field with a time of 8:34.96.

The two must enjoy running in California. Back in December, Griffith and Pajak finished 1-2 at the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championship in San Diego.

Records fall at South Hills Classic

A pair of WPIAL athletes broke meet records at the 20th annual South Hills Classic. Winchester Thurston’s DaShae Cochran went 17 feet, 10½ inches to win the girls long jump, while Hempfield’s Peyton Murray used a throw of 170-2 to win the boys discus. Murray also won the shot put.

Murray was one of two double winners from the WPIAL on the boys side, with Baldwin’s Marcus Toto winning the long jump and triple jump, and Burgettstown’s Zack Schrockman taking first in the 400 and high jump.

Cochran, a sophomore, helped lead the Winchester Thurston girls to a strong performance. Charlotte Brake-Hoffman won the 400 and Alexis Bansah the triple jump, and the Bears’ 3,200 relay team also placed first. Monroe Law was second in the 100, 200 and long jump. Bansah was one of two freshmen winning gold medals at the meet. The other was Hempfield’s Madison Altman, who won the 300 hurdles.

This and that

Canon-McMillan’s Colton Dean won three gold medals and set a pair of meet records at the Morgantown Invitational. Dean claimed gold in the 100 (10.93) and achieved meet marks in the 300 hurdles (39.44) and long jump (22-2½). Dean ran a 10.81 in the preliminaries of the 100. … This weekend’s invitational schedule is highlighted by Friday’s Lady Spartan/Wildcat Invitational at Latrobe Memorial Stadium and Saturday’s Tri-State Track Coaches Association Championships at West Mifflin. As of Tuesday night, 42 schools had registered for the Lady Spartan/Wildcat Invitational and 33 for the TSTCA Championships.

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