Red Devils’ Brandis captures 2 medals again

SHIPPENSBURG – For someone that just raced two miles in about 90 minutes earlier, Alyssa Brandis seemed full of energy.

She had plenty of reason to be. Brandis, the Central Cambria senior, had just medaled at the PIAA Track and Field Championships in the Class AA girls 3200-meter run for the second straight year, and she knew she had a good chance to win her third state medal in the 3200 relay.

“I felt pretty good. I was ready,” Brandis said. “I was pretty hyper.”

It showed as Brandis brought two medals home for the second consecutive year from Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium on a windy but mostly sunny Saturday to highlight the day for area girls competitors.

Brandis finished seventh in the two-mile run, then came back to join Jackie Bracken, Jordan Hayward and Sam Elkin in sixth-place performance in the relay.

Those were the only two times area girls competitors took the awards stand on the meet’s second day. Northern Bedford’s Maria Snyder just missed out on a third straight medal in the Class AA girls 3200, and Altoona pole vaulter Hannah Mulhern was 10th in her event in Class AAA.

Brandis completed the eight laps of the 3200 in 11 minutes, 13.39 seconds. Louisville recruit Adair Gennocro of St. Marys won the race with a time of 10:37.90.

“I just wanted to medal, since it was my last year,” said Brandis, who will compete for Seton Hill next year.

Brandis ran near the front for most of the race and stayed in the top eight all the way.

“I always like getting a good start, so that’s what I did. The start was a little fast,” Brandis said.

Brandis, though, seemed to savor the relay medal even more than the individual accomplishment. The Lady Red Devils timed in at 9:46.42, 4 seconds better than they did in the preliminaries on Friday. Villa Maria of District 10 won the race with a time of 9:29.73, but six other teams were in the 9:40s.

“There’s no way I could have done it without these girls. I’m going to miss them next year,” Brandis said.

Central Cambria remained pretty consistently in the middle of the top eight throughout the relay. Elkin brought things home on the anchor leg for the second straight year to match last year’s finish.

“It was just such an honor to be here in the first place,” Elkin said. “We had to work so hard for this every day. There wasn’t a day that we took off or didn’t work toward this. It took a whole season to get here, and I wouldn’t want to be with any other girls than these three.”

Elkin, like Brandis, is a senior. However, the first two legs were run by underclassmen.

“You never would guess that,” Elkin said. “I would never think that [Bracken] was a freshman and [Hayward] was a sophomore. They can be goofy, but I think they’re all right.”

Hayward was on the team with Brandis and Elkin in 2012.

“Knowing that other people are counting on you, you get such an adrenaline rush,” Hayward said. “We’ve been working toward this since winter. It’s just such an accomplishment. I don’t even have the words.”

Bracken ran the leadoff leg.

“I was really nervous at the beginning. I knew I had to get a great start,” Bracken said.

Snyder was battling for the lead the first half of the 3200 but faded as the pack got away for her in the final four laps and settled for ninth place. Her time was 11:21.50. She needed to trim 5 seconds off her time to medal.

“Ninth is probably the hardest spot to be in. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be,” Snyder, a senior heading to James Madison, said. “I went for it. I knew I had nothing to lose, so I just went out for the pack and went for it. I knew that I had to go out in the beginning. Yes, I lost a little bit on [laps] five and six, but I posted my best time of the season.”

Snyder’s time was about 40 seconds faster than what she ran in the District 5 meet.

“This is definitely the best I felt. I felt really good during the race,” Snyder said. “It’s hard coming in not having the times, mentally knowing. That’s mainly why I went for it in the beginning.”

Mulhern could sympathize with Snyder. She came in seeded second in Class AAA, having achieved a record 12-foot, 3-inch vault at the District 6 meet.

Like many vaulters in their first trip to states, though, Mulhern struggled and ended in a six-way tie for 10th, finishing at 11 feet.

It was part of a tough day for Lady Lion competitors in general. Junior Abby Wagner, seeded seventh in the triple jump, ended up 11th with a best jump of 37-0 1/4. In the discus, Rebecca Laich, also a junior, was 21st, coming up with a best throw of 96-1.

Penn Cambria senior Carly Petney’s and Tyrone junior Jordyn Swogger’s meet ended in the Class AA 100 and 200 semifinals, respectively. Petney finished seventh in her 100 heat in a time of 12.65. Swogger was sixth in her 200 heat with a 26.36.

Three other area girls were in action in Class AA field finals on Saturday but finished out of the medals. Bedford sophomore Kaitlyn Lippencott finished 20th; she jumped 33-4. Penn Cambria’s Megan Wheeler also placed 20th, tossing the shot 32-6 1/2. Philipsburg-Osceola’s Tiffany Bertothy was 21st in the javelin with a throw of 100-11.