In the huddled chaos of disparate events and hundreds of competitors Thursday at Baldwin High School, Shaler's Brianna Schwartz not only managed to stand out among her peers, but she also made history in the process.
Event records are broken at the WPIAL individual track and field championships on an annual basis, but Schwartz was able to accomplish something more significant, breaking the all-time WPIAL 1,600-meter run record of 4:51.6 that Baldwin's Carol Zajac set in 1990.
Zajac, a WPIAL Hall of Famer, went on to win an NCAA championship at Villanova and is considered to be one of the best distance runners in WPIAL history.
Schwartz's time of 4:47.07 was more than eight seconds better than second-place finisher Kelsey Potts of Mt. Lebanon in Class AAA.
Just a sophomore, she set a similar mark in the "McKinney Mile" at the Baldwin Invitational in early May, but that time came with an asterisk as it was not a true 1,600-meter race.
This time around, she was able to make it official.
"I'm just really happy and it gives me a lot of confidence going into the state meet," Schwartz said. "I really can't put it into words."
For good measure, Schwartz also broke a 13-year-old WPIAL record in the 800 with a time of 2:10.38.
Not to be outdone by her sophomore counterpart, Hempfield's Maddie Holmberg demonstrated what she has for much of the season -- that she might be the consummate track and field athlete in Western Pennsylvania.
Holmberg captured first in three events, either individually or as a part of a relay.
By the time the competition ended, Holmberg finished first in the Class AAA 100-and 300-meter hurdles (14.98 and 43.97 seconds), and was on the winning 400-meter relay team. In the 100 hurdles, she edged out Mt. Lebanon senior Beatrice Goodyear, who beat her in the event last year.
She also finished fourth in the long jump, which she won last year.
"I was pretty much expecting to qualify for states, but I didn't realize I was going to win," Holmberg said. "I was hoping to win; I was in the mindset that I wanted to win, but I'm so glad that I did."
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough of Hopewell, a three-sport standout for much of her high school career, won two field events -- the triple jump and the long jump, outperforming the defending champion in each. In the long jump, she came just short of her leap of 19 feet, 3 inches in the Baldwin Invitational, which was the third longest for a girl in WPIAL history.
After a disappointing junior season, the Maryland basketball signee made sure to finish her WPIAL track career properly.
"Somebody asked me recently if I run track for fun," Walker-Kimbrough said. "Well, I like to win gold medals, so I guess I run it for fun."
Springdale's Emily Lelis continued her dominance in the hurdles on the Class AA level, capturing her third consecutive WPIAL title in the 100 and 300 hurdles, giving the junior a title in those events for each of her three years of high school.
"I thought if I had a good race and just ran my race that I could win, but the wind was kind of bad and in my face, so my time could have been better," she said.
Both winners from last year's 100 meters successfully defended their WPIAL titles. West Allegheny sophomore Lauren Costa won in Class AAA with a time of 12.27 seconds, and Washington's Alyssa Wise won in Class AA at 12.18 seconds.
Meet record were broken in Class AA by Beaver sophomore Ruthe Neeley in the 400 and Vincentian's Ally Bartoszewicz in the 200.
Among the other competitors to win multiple events was California's Kailyn Clancy, who finished first in the discus and shot put in Class AA.
Craig Meyer: email@example.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG. First Published May 17, 2013 4:00 AM