'Four-peat' not once, but twice at WPIAL track championships

Hempfield junior, North Hills senior shine at Baldwin



Hempfield's Maddie Holmberg and North Hills' Mary Malone attend schools on opposite ends of the WPIAL and compete in drastically different track and field events. But at the WPIAL championships, they had a connection.

Holmberg and Malone provided unusual story lines in which fours were wild.

For Holmberg, she had a collection of four gold medals.

For Malone, it was the final chapter of a family "four-peat."

Holmberg, a junior, won two more events Saturday at Baldwin High School to finish the championships with four gold medals (three individual and one relay). The meet was suspended Thursday and concluded Saturday. Holmberg won the Class AAA 100- and 300-meter hurdles, the long jump and also ran a leg on Hempfield's winning 400 relay team.

Malone, meanwhile, closed the curtain on a sister act unheard of in WPIAL annals. Malone, a senior, won the Class AAA 3,200. It was the fourth year in a row one of the Malone sisters won the event. Margo Malone won in 2010 and 2011, and Shannon won last year.

Margo now runs at Syracuse and Shannon at Virginia. Mary, who won the 3,200 in 10 minutes, 58.38 seconds, will also run at Syracuse next year.

"It's been a long time coming," Mary said of winning a gold medal. "I'm used to getting second behind them. I was glad to always see them win, but it's nice to finally win one."

For Holmberg, the winning is becoming a habit. She is working on getting a glass case for her medals -- and the case better be pretty big because she now has nine WPIAL gold medals with one year still left in her high school career. She won the 100 and 300 hurdles last year, as well as the 400 relay. As a freshman, she won the long jump and the 400 relay.

After winning the 100 hurdles and the 400 relay Thursday, Holmberg came back Saturday and won the 300 hurdles with a personal-best time of 43.35 and the long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 3 inches.

Holmberg was pushed in the 300 hurdles by Pine-Richland's Kat Quigley. The two were neck and neck with about 50 meters remaining. Holmberg edged Quigley, but Quigley was later disqualified for interference because she hit a hurdle that went into the lane of another runner.

"There was a point where I was questioning if I was going to win," Holmberg said. "Then it was like, 'No.' Then that little bit of extra adrenaline kicked in and I was able to pull it out."

In other highlights, meet records were set in four events:

* Mohawk's Maria Fleck won the Class AA 300 hurdles in 44.05 seconds, breaking the mark of 44.57, set last year by Emily Lelis of Springdale. Lelis finished second to Fleck this year with a time of 44.33.

* Upper St. Clair's James Smith won the Class AAA 800 with a time of 1:53.23, breaking the record of 1:53.50, set by Hempfield's Matt Evans in 2002.

* Beaver Falls' Dom Peretta won the Class AA 800 with a time of 1:52.72, breaking the record of 1:55.65, set by Quaker Valley's L.J. Westwood in 2011.

* Vincentian freshman Marianne Abdalah won the Class AA 3,200 in 10:45.54, smashing the record of 10:57.37, run by South Fayette's Nicole Hilton in 2011.

Fleck's win might be considered a small upset. It was the first time in Lelis' four years that she did not win both the 100 and 300 hurdles. Lelis finished her career with seven golds in the two events.

"I've been running against her since my freshman year. She's an incredible hurdler," said Fleck, a junior.

"She had me for a while [Saturday], but the only thought in my head was to go faster. My hurdles weren't very pretty. At the end, I was just trying to get over them as fast as I could and go as fast as I could."

For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.


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