AOC Raleigh
adidas Outdoor Championships
June 18-19, 2004 at NC State U., Raleigh NC
presented by the National Scholastic Sports Foundation

a DyeStat featured meet

Pennsylvania view

West Catholic, Frances Koons, Craig Miler, Lindsay Regan

by Don Rich, publisher of PennTrackXC

  • West Catholic's 200m sophs come through to set up Nicole Leach and Latavia Thomas
    assault on USR in 1600m sprint medley.
  • Frances Koons takes a risk and gets All-American in deepest girls' Mile
    field in prep history
  • Craig Miller nearly gets 2nd consecutive National Class Record, and
    anticipates challenge from twin Brad in XC
  • Lindsay Regan's gymnastic training saves her from serious injury, but
    she withdraws from Junior Nats.
Craig Miller
Latavia Thomas, West Catholic
Lindsay Regan clears early height easily.


Frances Koons in traffic.

West Catholic gets two relay All-American honors - one a National Record
- plus Nicole Leach earns individual All-American status. Manheim
Township super soph Craig Miller nearly takes the sophomore Class Mile
Record to go with his Freshman Class 1600 National Record. Frances
, Allentown Central Catholic, closes out an incredible year and
career with a 6th place All-American performance in what was the deepest
prep Mile field in history. The Cumberland Valley boys nab All-American
honors in two relays, as does Central Dauphin's Ryan Whiting in his two
individual events. All-American awards are also earned by Easton's
Lindsay Regan, who was not seriously injured in a nasty fall in the Pole
Vault; plus Williamsport's Ruby Radocaj, South Park's Chad Radgowski,
Octorara's Ryan Fritz, Upper Saint Clair's Rob Rankin, and the Cardinal

Running PRs for the first two legs in Friday's 1600 Sprint Medley, two
West Catholic sophomores ensured that the final two legs of Nicole Leach
and Latavia Thomas would have the chance they needed to not only catch
AP Randolph, but to have a crack at the national record of 3:53.28 set
by Wilson Long Beach in 2003. Kneshia Sheard split 24.4, setting a PR
and giving the stick to Erika Ferguson, who was able to keep contact
with the more experienced runners ahead of her. Her 27.7 was also a PR.
Burr's head coach Lenny Jordan said he knew they'd be behind after the
200 legs. "Sheard is only in 10th grade, so you have to be proud of her.
And Erica had a lot of pressure as a sophomore too, and she came

Nicole Leach gets the stick and splits close to her US Indoor
National JR record of 52.19 in going 52.4. "I had to do my best to get
in as quick as possible because I know the 800 is a very hard race.
Without those two (Kneshia and Erica), we would have been even deeper."
Jordan knew that if anchor Latavia-she's a warrior-Thomas got the baton
within 20 meters they were going to win. "It was set up by the
competition. We knew with Randolph in it that one of us was going to get
the record. We just wish Oak Ridge (FL, who ran close to the time in
California), was here. Then we all might have gone a little faster." For
those looking for a drop-off by West Catholic, all four girls return in
2005, with Leach the only one graduating in June of next year.
Ironically, West Catholic broke the 3:54.39 meet record set by Philly's
William Penn in 1997. Former William Penn head coach, and PA coaching
icon Tim Hickey, joined West Catholic this year as an assistant after
retiring from William Penn.

West Catholic also captured All-American honors in the 4x400, taking 4th
in 3:45.43, very close to the team's season goal. Nicole Leach took an
individual All-American certificate with a 4th place 53.78 in the 400.

"Frances never has a bad race," observed Perkiomen Valley's Sarah
Roberts, (3rd behind Koons at this year's state meet), after witnessing
the deepest field in US girls' prep history, and a 6th place
All-American performance by Koons. Koons was, as usual, nervous, yet
prepared. "It was funny, but the rain delay helped to calm me down a
little bit. With so many girls under 4:50 in the race, I was ready for
anything." What she got was a blistering start, and a huge pack of
talented athletes through the start of the third lap. Boxed in, she
decided to go against the race plan and pick it up. "I wasn't getting
any closer to the front, so I decided I had to move up. It's not the
smartest way to do it, but it was so bunched up, I just had to get out
of there. It was the only option." Koons' risk and race savvy worked.
Over the year she has learned she does indeed have a kick, and she
needed every ounce of it to keep her position through the final 200,
clocking 4:48.35, just a bit off her PR of 4:47.90 set at last week's
Golden West Invitational. When asked if the race and the All-American
status that accompanied it was the perfect end to her high school
career, Koons said she didn't have the words for it. "It's almost like a
great spiritual thing for me. I always pray before and after, and I'm
just so thankful for everything that has happened. It's really from my
parents, my coach, my family and my friends."

Craig Miller, the Manheim Central sophomore who stunned many in the PA
track community with his PIAA record 4:09.33 1600 three weeks ago, was
carrying the weight of expectations that he could get his second
consecutive National Class record after accomplishing the feat his
freshman year. He came within .69 of a second, racing confidently and
powerfully to a 4:06.76 3rd place finish. Similar to his race as a
freshman in PA, and every race since, Miller shows respect, but never
doubt, as he faced the toughest competition of his young career. He
didn't expect the 59.5 opening lap, "but I was prepared for a 2:02
half." While happy with the PR after a three week racing lull after the
PA state meet, Miller came to Raleigh with the goal of getting the
sophomore class record. "But it's all right . I was close." Manheim
Township coach Terry Lee, who accompanied Miller and his family to the
meet, said Craig took a week off after States, and then did his distance
alone, but four to five workouts with him so he could see where he was.
"I was impressed with Craig's focus days before the race, and even
throughout the rain delay. He competed intelligently, keeping his
composure and powerful form throughout the whole race."

So what's next for this distance prodigy? Miller says it's "hopefully Northeast Foot
Lockers in Cross Country, and then Nationals." Asked about the 1600
state record of 4:03.22 set by PA legend Paul Vandergrift in 1987,
Miller is hopeful of going after the record, given the right race and
the right competition. And the 4-minute mile? "We'll see. I don't want
to make any predictions." Showing great range, Miller likes the variety
of cross country better than track. "But I guess I'm better at track."

A cross-training athlete much of his life, Miller swam this past winter
instead of hitting the indoor oval. But he did drop basketball. Miller
plans to keep up the swimming, and while he still likes basketball, he
said he's "not going to do that anymore." Twin brother Brad, who ran
4:18 this spring, is the athlete that most concerns Craig in PA. Coach
Miller agrees, but notes, "somebody new is always coming along. We'll
have to wait and see." State AA champ Chris Spooner looked a bit tired
from an incredible season of great races, taking 8th in 4:14.00. He had
run a 1:50.8 800 split on Friday morning in the 4x800 to help his team
come back from a dropped baton, getting 8th in 7:50.59.

The pole vault is obviously a risk-laden sport. And Vertical Assault
coach Mike Lawryk has seen some misses by athletes in his years of
coaching, but none that scared him as much as one by Easton's Lindsay
Regan. Clearing 11-5.75 and 11-11.75 on her first two attempts, Regan
began having trouble at 12-5.50. On her third attempt, she came up
short, caught her legs on the bar, and was left in the head-down
position. Lindsay saw she was headed for the box and made a move that
got her in position to cushion her fall with her hands. "She came
straight down into the box and was able to catch her hands on the
collar, which is also where she hit the side of her head." The collars
are a new pad around the box that has been mandated since fatal
accidents, including one to Penn State vaulter Kevin Dare, who was
killed at the Big 10 Indoor Champs in 2002 in Minneapolis.

Lawryk had been concerned about Regan for about a month as his star athlete was
nursing a leg muscle pull. "But she kept clearing 13' and more on a
regular basis, so it was pretty hard not to let her just keep jumping.
But I was worried. You have to be in this sport." Lawryk credits Regan's
almost lifelong experience as a gymnast with her mid-air,
injury-reducing move, not to mention the new collars. "Those saved her."
X-rays were negative on her injured wrist, but she will be in an air
cast for four weeks as a precaution. That means her attempt to go after
her second consecutive National Class record next week at the USATF
Junior Outdoor Championships in Texas is off. Lawryk is simply happy
Lindsay's OK. "And she did get her first All-American certificate in a
truly national meet with her 4th place finish."

Cumberland Valley used five athletes to win two All-American
certificates. Eclipsing their states 2nd place time of 7:48.12 with a
7:46.82 were three seniors and a sophomore, David Little, Kevin Fuller
(the soph), Jon Fulginiti, and Brian Fuller. After their Friday race,
the three seniors were joined on Saturday night in the closing event by
David Stonfer, to split 3:06.3 (Fulginiti), 49.4 (Stonfer), 1:57.2
(Little), and 4:19.1 (Brian Fuller). The DMR of 10:12.04 is a school
record. Fuller had been passed during the race by Cardinal O'Hara senior
Steve Hallinan, but surged past him over the final 300 to take the last
All-American slot. In Friday's 4x800, O'Hara got 4th in 7:47.73.

PA fared well in the throws and High Jump, thanks to four very talented
juniors, a sophomore and a senior. Ryan Whiting, Central Dauphin,
returned to plus-60 form on Friday night with a throw of 63-06.25 to
capture 2nd in the Shot Put. The next afternoon, he threw the Discus
187-11, good for 4th place. Ryan Fritz, Octorara, cleared 6-08.75 to
garner a 4th place in the High Jump. Upper Saint Clair's Rob Rankin was
4th in Friday's Shot Put with a throw of 61-07.50, his first venture
over 60'. South Park's Chad Radgowski was 4th in the Javelin with his
throw of 192-03, just ahead of Jersey Shore sophomore Samuel Eck, who
was 6th at 190-11. And senior Ruby Radocaj of Williamsport was 5th in
the Javelin with a throw of 142-07, well off her season-best of
158-00.75. Sharon's Auston Papay, who had PA's 2nd best throw this year
(64-11), had an off day, getting 19th at 54-10.75.

Other PA performances of note, or notable, included: state Long Jump
champ Pete Habegger, Cedar Crest, 20th at 22-00.25 (24-08 @ States);
state Pole Vault champ Eric Sparks, Hickory, in a seven-way tie for 8th,
clearing 14-11.00; Angela Wells, Simon Gratz, who has gone 19-08.75, 7th
at 18-05.75, just 1.25" off 6th place; and Parkland freshman Tim Stepp,
who took 5th in the Freshman Mile in 4:30.61.


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