It’s not over yet, but it’s safe to say the 2024 WPIAL individual track and field championship meet won’t soon be forgotten by any of the spectators, athletes, coaches, officials or even the media members who were there to experience it.

After several stoppages and restarts due to inclement weather delays totaling about four hours, WPIAL chief operating officer Vince Sortino made the call after a reported lightning strike around 9:30 p.m. to suspend the competition until 4 p.m. Thursday. A few events remain on the schedule, but there were still plenty of memorable performances to write home about from Wednesday’s championship meet at Slippery Rock University.

In the Class 2A portion of the event, a handful of top-notch sprinters, hurdlers, distance runners, jumpers and throwers put up personal-best marks across several categories β€” but the unquestioned star of the show on “Day 1” was Derry junior Sophia Mazzoni.

The defending champion in the javelin and one of the most heralded throwers in the area, Mazzoni launched a picture-perfect 159-foot throw in her second finals attempt that set a WPIAL Class 2A championship meet record and effectively ended the competition on the spot. Spectators gasped as Mazzoni’s spear soared through the sky before landing a full 33 feet, 2 inches beyond the mark of the second-place finisher, Knoch’s Karlee Buterbaugh.

“It feels great seeing my friends and family supporting me. It was a great moment,” Mazzoni said. “I love coming from Derry. It’s such a small area. I love representing and just getting my name out there.”

The jaw-dropping throw tied a PR mark for Mazzoni, who also threw exactly 159 feet at the Altoona Invitational less than two weeks prior.

“The runway was definitely moist [after the weather delay],” said Mazzoni, who fouled on her first and third attempts in the final. “It was really rough to get back in there after warming up. I felt good at the beginning, and then they called the delay. … My second [attempt], I did figure it out and hit that 159.

“My coaches and I want to hit that 160. It’s so close, yet so far.”

Former record-holder Jessie Merckle, who set the previous mark of 156-8 in 2012, is now an assistant coach at Fort Cherry. Merckle made sure to congratulate Mazzoni afterward, and the two snapped a quick picture to commemorate the moment.

After competing in the shot put and discus as well as a freshman, Mazzoni decided to drop the shot put from her schedule as a sophomore before cutting out the discus this year to focus all her attention on the javelin. The extra practice seemingly has paid off, as Mazzoni is looking like the front-runner to claim her first state title after bringing home a silver medal from Shippensburg in 2023.

“All we can think about is states really right now,” Mazzoni said. “I’m just trying to let it go and get a new PR there.”

Croumbles cruises to school’s first title

He only has been running track for two seasons, but DeJuan Croumbles took the fast lane to rise to the top among Class 2A sprinters.

After an injury hampered his performance a year ago when he finished in last place in the 100-meter finals, the Neighborhood Academy junior worked his way back to full strength this spring, and the turnaround has been swift and spectacular. Croumbles went from worst to first in the 100, taking home the gold a with a personal-best time of 10.73 β€” and becoming his school’s first WPIAL track champion in the process.

“I knew I came in here to shatter [my PR],” Croumbles said. “I didn’t come here to lose.”

Croumbles was inches away from taking home first place in the 100 at the Baldwin Invitational on May 3, but Canon-McMillan’s Colton Dean came from behind just before the finish to edge him by 0.04 seconds. Still, that performance gave Croumbles a confidence boost going into the WPIAL championships, where he finally erased the memories of last year’s last-place finish.

“I’m very, very thankful to my coaches who supported me to get here after such a big injury last year,” Croumbles said. “I worked a lot with my coaches on block starts. … Those were the big issue with my 100. Getting that down and learning some quick techniques in such a short time really helped me get to where I am now.”

Not satisfied with just one medal, though, Croumbles and his Neighborhood Academy teammates also took home silver medals in the 400 relay after finishing just behind Fort Cherry with a time of 42.89. Anchored by multi-sport superstar Matt Sieg, Fort Cherry finished first in 42.59.

“The goal [at states] is to win,” Croumbles said, “10.5 [seconds], that’s the goal.”

Neighborhood Academy’s DeJuan Croumbles smiles after finishing in first in the Class 2A 100-meter finals at the WPIAL track and field championships Wednesday at Slippery Rock University. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Shenango’s throwing dominance continues

Now a sophomore thrower at Iowa, former state champion Emma Callahan made plenty of headlines for Shenango over the years for her prowess in the discus and shot put. And although she is no longer around, the Wildcats are having no trouble carrying on their winning tradition in both events with Callahan’s father leading the way as throwing coach.

On Wednesday, senior Colton Fedrizzi took home gold medals in the shot put and discuss after failing to reach the podium in either event as a junior. Fedrizzi posted a personal-best mark of 55-11.25 in the shot put and also set a personal record with a toss of 154-1 in the discus, and he credited Matt Callahan and the rest of Shenango’s coaching staff for his vast improvement in just his second year of high school competition.

“Every day, I wish I would have started [earlier],” Fedrizzi said. “As I’ve gone through high school, I’ve seen so many good throwers go through Shenango. I knew the coaches were there, and I knew I had the ability in me to hit some big throws. I just had to tweak my form a bit and really go after it in the weight room, and definitely eat more than usual.

“I just put my trust in [the coaches], and they obviously knew what to do. … [Coach Callahan] is one of a kind. It’s truly amazing to have him over here, just spreading his knowledge.”

On the girls side, the Wildcats swept the top three spots in the discus throw, as junior Rachel Callahan took home first place with a toss of 119-01, followed by senior Maria Bryant with a mark of 110-09 and sophomore Zoe Bupp with a throw of 109-06. Not to be outdone, freshman Anna McKinley stunned everybody in attendance β€” herself included β€” when she shattered her personal-best mark of 39-11 in the shot put to capture the WPIAL title. Bupp finished fourth in the shot put at 39-4.5 and Bryant finished sixth at 38 feet.

“I definitely was just aiming for 36-6, the qualifying mark [for states]. I wasn’t expecting to get first. I don’t think anybody did,” McKinley said with a laugh. “I couldn’t really believe it.”

Shenango senior Colton Fedrizzi swept the Class 2A shot put and discuss titles at the WPIAL track and field individual championships at Slippery Rock University on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Gartley siblings shine for Quaker Valley

The trophy case at the Gartley household just received some new additions β€” and pretty soon, it might start running out of room.

After winning the WPIAL high jump title as a freshman, Quaker Valley sophomore Mia Gartley repeated the feat with a mark of 5-4 after edging teammate Mimi Thiero and Apollo-Ridge’s Sophia Yard in a three-way jump-off. Gartley was joined at the top of the podium by her older brother, Quakers junior Davin Gartley, who won the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.56 to bring home his first WPIAL title. He also earned a silver medal in the 300 hurdles with a time of 39.56 β€” but his younger sister surely will be quick to remind him at the dinner table who has the upper hand in the gold-medal count.

“I guess it is [a competition] now,” Mia Gartley said. “I’m really happy to see him win also.”

Laurel’s Tori Atkins set a new Class 2A meet record in the 400 with a time of 55.54 at the WPIAL track and field individual championships on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at Slippery Rock University. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Other top performers

Laurel junior Tori Atkins still has her eyes on a 200-meter three-peat, but the Spartans’ multi-sport standout already added to her glowing collection of WPIAL medals on Wednesday. Atkins set a new WPIAL Class 2A meet record in the 400 with a personal-best time of 55.54 β€” good for eighth-best in WPIAL history β€” while taking home her third consecutive gold medal in the event. She also finished fifth in the 100 with a time of 12.23.

Avonworth senior Hayzes Robinson defended her crown in the 100 with a time of 12.05, just off her personal-best time of 12.01 from last year’s WPIAL championships. Robinson is the youngest of four decorated sprinters and the third sister in her family to win the 100-meter crown.

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

Steve Rotstein

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