SHIPPENSBURG - Bellwood-Antis middle distance runner Ellen Crook didn't get a lot of sleep the night before the opening day of the PIAA Track and Field Championships, but it wasn't because of any anxiousness.
"In our dorm room, the windows were open. The blinds kept hitting, and it kept waking us up," Crook said. "But we weren't closing them."
Maybe Crook dreamed sweetly of winning two state medals on Friday night.
Apparently none the worse for the lack of sleep, the Pitt-bound Lady Blue Devil senior turned in outstanding performances in the 800- and 1600-meter runs and is on track to reach the medal stand in both events at Seth Grove Stadium today.
Crook posted the best time of the day in the Class AA 1600, 5 minutes, 8.63 seconds. Boiling Springs' Leanne Weaver had the next-best time of 5:10.12. Avonworth's Beth Shenck was second in Crook's heat, about 3.5 seconds behind the Bellwood senior.
"It was definitely nice getting that first place in the mile," Crook said. "I know the other heat, though, is going to be competitive. Kennedy Weiser [of Elk County Catholic] is going to be tough. I'm hoping to PR again."
Crook also completed the 800 meters in 2:21.03, qualifying for the finals by virtue of her third-place finish in her heat.
As big as getting a medal in the half-mile, though, is advancing gives Crook one more shot at the school record of 2:20.50 in the event. She already has the school standards in the mile and two-mile runs.
"The 800 was kind of originally the race I did [before any of the others]. I really want to get that eight, because I've been doing it the longest," Crook said. "I just want to feel that I accomplished everything that I could."
Central Cambria's four-by-800 relay of Jackie Bracken, Hannah Swope, Samantha Koss and Emma Wess moved into today's final 12 in Class AA by running 9:46.90. Wess passed Mount Carmel's anchor in the final 10 meters to clinch it for the Lady Red Devils, placing them fifth in their heat but giving them the best wild-card time to advance.
Beyond that, it was a rough day on the track for area competitors. Tyrone's Jordyn Swogger missed reaching the Class AA 200 semifinals by four-hundredths of a second when she finished fourth in her preliminary heat.
Swogger still was upbeat, slapping five with her cousin, Bailey Swogger of Bellwood-Antis, as they left the track. Bailey Swogger was fifth in the same race, putting up a result of 26.87, while Northern Bedford's Whitley Furry placed seventh at 26.96.
"I think I ran a good time. I'm not exactly sure what it was, but my coaches said it was good," Jordyn Swogger said immediately after the race.
Swogger had been dealing with health issues all season that forced her out of her best event, the 400, as districts.
"Watching the 400 really was rough for me, because I knew I probably could make it to finals," said Swogger, who would have been running in four events on Friday had she run her usual time in the event at districts. "I knew I had to push it in [the 200], even if I wasn't feeling my best."
Swogger's four-by-400 team with Jordan Wiser, Erika Voyzey and Michaela Diehl was bounced from the meet after finished in 4:20.07, placing fifth in its heat. In a later prelim, Tussey Mountain's Morgan Lynn, Courtney Rupert, Samantha Coffman and Devin Folk were knocked out - they ran 4:12.94, nearly 4 seconds ahead of their District 5-winning pace but just fifth in their heat.
All three area girls 400 relay teams were sidelined in the preliminaries. In Class AAA, Hollidaysburg's Tori Surma, Maddy Aungst, Alexis Palfey and Ali Wyland were sixth in their heat with a time of 51.94. In Class AA, Tyrone's Swogger, Voyzey, Diehl and Lexi Patton clocked 51.87 and were sixth in their race, while Tussey Mountain's Morgan Lynn, Courtney Rupert, Samantha Coffman and Devin Folk were seventh in their prelim with a time of 52.25.
Wyland was knocked out of the Class AAA 100 competition, even though she bettered the state qualifying standard with a 12.54 sprint. The cutoff to get into the top 16 for today's semifinals was 12.42.
Huntingdon's Rachel Fleming endured the same fate in the Class AA 400. She was third in her heat with a better-than-state-qualifying-time of 59.90. However, only heat winners advanced automatically along with the next four best times; the last qualifier ran 58.90.
Furry wasn't much off Fleming's pace, turning in a 59.98. That placed her fifth in her heat.
Bellwood's Bailey Swogger and Tussey Mountain's Ivie Morningstar were unable to advance in the Class AA 100 meters. Needing a 13.07, Swogger ran a 13.19 to finish fifth in her preliminary heat. Morningstar clocked in at 13.52 to come in eighth in the same race.
In the Class AA 300 hurdles, Bishop Carroll's Carrie D'Andrea and Tussey Mountain's Morgan Lynn finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the third of five preliminary heats. D'Andrea ran 48.49, Lynn, 48.79.
Wess competed with Crook in the Class AA 800, but finished 12th in the other heat. Her time was 2:29.88.
Beyond Voyzey's victory in the Class AA high jump (see related story), the area didn't fare much better in the field than it did on the track.
In the Class AAA high jump, Hollidaysburg's Makayla Williams was part of a large group of competitors in low medal contention, but the Lady Tiger senior did not achieve the initial height of 5-2.
Altoona's Alexis Mirenda, finished 21st in the Class AAA javelin with a top throw of 111-11. Her teammate, Rachel Dibert, was 23rd in the shot put, throwing 33-2.
Huntingdon's Steph Park was one of three Class AA pole vaulters tied for 16th place at 9-6. Chestnut Ridge's Amanda Kostryk didn't make the initial height.
Chestnut Ridge's Emily Finnegan wasn't able to capitalize on her District 5 javelin championship after an injury-plagued regular season. Finnegan finished 17th in Class AA with a best throw of 110-2.