Shenango girls and Ellwood CIty boys set for WPIAL team championship

May 6—Two Lawrence County track and field teams will attend the WPIAL Class 2A championships.

On Wednesday, the Shenango High girls track and field team advanced to the championship after defeating Hopewell (88.5-61.5), Freeport (83-66) and Shady Side Academy (90-60) on its home turf. Ellwood City Lincoln moved on at West Mifflin after topping Riverview, 84-66, Knoch (87.5-62.5), West Mifflin (88-64) and Waynesburg Central (91-59).

The WPIAL Class 2A team championship is at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at Peters Township Middle School.

Said Shenango coach John Montgomery on advancing to the team championship, "I couldn't be more proud of the team. They did an awesome job. We knew Hopewell was good and Shady Side had a lot of runners. We knew we were going to have PRs. The girls showed up, came up big when they had to and earned a hard-fought win."

Shenango's biggest strength entering the championship meet is the field team. In the semifinals, Shenango's Sara Roe was the lone multiple winner for her team.

Roe picked up first place in the long jump and triple jump, while Zoe Bupp, Rachael Callahan and Abigail Bulow helped Shenango take first in other field events.

"Jumping and throwing wise, we're really strong," Montgomery said. "We put in a really good indoor track season last winter; most of the girls that stuck around for indoor have been our leaders outdoors. I always bring up Matt Callahan because he does a great job. He puts in so much time and effort with those kids.

"Our recipe the last few years has been keep it close on the track, expect big points on the field and it seems to be working."

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Montgomery said the indoor training facility next to the Shenango High School has proved beneficial for his players to train.

"What we've done this year is a product of having a good enough number of kids that wanted to come run indoors and do all of the extra stuff last summer," Montgomery said. "When you have a core group of kids to put in the work like they did, it's nice to see it pay off."

Ellwood City coach Nate Brown said reaching reaching the championship is something the kids have been aiming for.

"Up until recently, Ellwood hasn't been a team-oriented team, but ever since I've taken over, I've tried to make sure everyone realizes we don't have to celebrate one or two kids when we have a lot of talent on this team," Brown said. "I knew the group I had when they were sophomores and I knew they could be something. I made sure I've gotten them the coaching and the time and we've just went all-in on trying to make something like this happen. We knew we could win, but the kids showed up and did what they needed to do. It was awesome to watch."

Brown said 2012 was the last time the Wolverines' team went to the playoffs.

"It's funny, I haven't thought about what our strengths are," Brown said on entering the championship meet. "When we talk about strengths, we have a very strong distance group, we're very deep in the hurdles, we have one really good jumper and our throws this year have come along. At the end of the day, I think the strength is the desire these kids have to come out. There's not one kid on the team I would ask to do something. It's sheer desire to improve, show up and do their best."

Brown said the team has been practicing to their best ability right now.

"I know we've been beat up from a tight schedule. We had four section meets moved so it was meet after meet," Brown said. "Unfortunately, (Friday was) our prom so we didn't have our practice. Most of the kids got their workouts in. These kids have that desire. They reach out to the coaches and ask 'What can I do today?' and they got their work in."