PIAA track and field: Spring Grove's Laila Campbell claims two gold medals again
This is starting to become a trend.
There were plenty of high expectations for Spring Grove's Laila Campbell going into the 2022 PIAA Track and Field Championships. She took home gold in the 100 and 200 dashes last year, and she was the heavy favorite to do that again.
She met those expectations and then some.
Campbell took home gold in both of those events once again, setting a new PIAA meet record in the 100m in the process.
"It feels great," Campbell said. "I wanted to run faster than I did last year and get close to that record."
Her 200m time of 23.56 came very close of the PIAA record of 23.52, but she knew yesterday that the 100m record was in reach.
She finished with a 11.65 in prelims, .01 off the record. She left no doubt during the finals, crossing the finish line in 11.55.
"I wanted to break it yesterday, but coming out here today I knew I had to attack it even harder," Campbell said.
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Even with all the expectations, she didn't let it distract her from achieving what she wanted to achieve.
"Sometimes there's pressure, but then I have to remember I'm doing this for myself, and I have trust in my coaches and the work I've put in," Campbell said.
Those expectations aren't coming from herself, as she says that it's about improving her times each time out, and less about the spot on the podium.
"My expectation is not really a certain place," Campbell said. "It's just to run my fastest and beat my own PR. Doesn't matter what place, last or first."
It definitely feels better to accomplish both, as she has two new personal records to go with her gold medals.
It's the culmination of a year full of tough decisions. She was a standout on the basketball court during her freshman year for Spring Grove, but instead of going back, she decided to focus on indoor track this year.
"It was a hard decision but I feel like doing indoor definitely put me in a better place going into outdoor compared to last year."
She will return to the hardcourt this summer for AAU basketball, but she will stick with indoor track next year to put her in a better position to improve.
That, plus more intense training in the offseason, shows she's ready to come back better than ever next year.
"Just need to intensify my training," Campbell said. "In the summer I'm definitely going to start lifting more. I think that will help me come better prepared and stronger for indoor."
Shippensburg shines close to home
The Greyhounds were in their backyard this weekend, so it made sense for them to show out.
Dakota Arana and Jillian Sydnor each took home gold medals, in the high jump and 400m dash, respectively, while Anthony Smith took home silver in discus.
Arana didn't just want a gold medal. He wanted records, and he came very close to getting that.
The Shippensburg senior won the title with a jump of 6-6, but he didn't stop there. After hitting 6-8 and 6-10, he was looking to get to 7-1, which would have set a PIAA and Franklin County record.
"I felt the best I've felt the past two weeks, so I had to go for it," Arana said. "It's the last meet of the season, so might as well shoot my shot."
His three attempts progressively got closer and closer, but he couldn't quite get there.
"I really wanted it bad, but I still came out on top so I'm satisfied," Arana said.
He now ends his high school career with back to back state titles, something he doesn't take for granted.
"Being able to end it on this not only for myself but for my school, to bring home another state title for my school and for my team, there's no better feeling in track than this," Arana said.
He will join Shippensburg University next year, giving him a taste of what to expect when he jumps for them soon.
Sydnor is still only a junior, and was able to climb the mountain to claim a gold medal in the 400, something that would have been a stretch a year ago.
She focused on the 100 and 200 her first two years, but with the competition so stiff in those two, she added 400 to her arsenal for this season.
It turned out to be a good decision.
"Yeah I would say it really paid off in the end," Sydnor said. "I stepped out of my comfort zone and won a state medal."
Her time of 55.17 set another school record, breaking her own, something that was almost a weekly occurrence over the course of the season.
It's a culmination of a historic season for the junior.
"I'm just speechless. Overall it's an amazing accomplishment."
Saturday was also the culmination of a historic career for Anthony Smith, as the three-sport athlete ended his senior season with a silver medal.
"I'm pretty happy with my day," Smith said. "I still think I had more in the tank and that's kind of upsetting, but I got second in states and that's still really impressive."
The football star finished with a top throw of 165-1, just behind Cumberland Valley's Wade Shomper, who had a 172-8.
Smith will soon head to Minnesota to begin his football career with the Golden Gophers, but he ended his track and field career with a district title, a state silver medal, and plenty of lessons learned.
"Be patient and always work behind the scenes," Smith said. "It might not show up at first, but my coaches showed me if you work, it's definitely going to show up in the big meets."
Bermudian Springs freshman soars to new heights
Lilyana Carlson seems to shine when the lights get brighter.
The Bermudian Springs freshman set a personal best on the pole vault last week with an 11-0 to claim a district title. She didn't claim gold on Saturday, but she continued to set new personal bests.
Carlson claimed third in the 2A pole vault with an 11-6. That mark was equal to first and second place, but she missed on her first attempt and cleared it on her second.
Regardless, the newcomer was pretty happy with her day.
"It feels pretty great," Carlson said. "It's what I wanted to get. I wanted to come in and get it and it feels good to achieve my goals."
Her effort last week to get 11-0 seemed to put her at ease on Saturday, leading to an even better effort.
"I think I was more focused, plus it felt good to know that I could get 11 and have my next goal be 11-6," Carlson said.
She's only a freshman, so she will have more opportunities to come back and improve upon her efforts. It's a thought that still seems wild to her.
"Yeah I'm not going to lie, when I came into pole vault, I didn't think I'd be any good," Carlson said. "I didn't think I had any good coordination, but I guess my coaches had faith in me."
Greencastle's Claire Paci double dips for silver
It was an impressive weekend for Greencastle's Claire Paci.
The sophomore claimed two silver medals, in the 3,200 and the 1,600, ending her season on a high note.
Getting the 1,600 out of the way early on Friday helped put her at ease going into the 3,200 on Saturday.
"I think I was more anxious for the mile just just because it's a faster paced race and you don't have as many laps to get into the groove of it," Paci said. "So having a great race yesterday made me more calm and more ready."
Paci will continue to represent the strong distance runners that Greencastle has had over the years. She ended her season with a district title in the 3200 and a strong state performance, showing that she is still gradually getting better.
"I think I'm definitely improving steadily, which I'm super happy about," Paci said. "I'm happy about my times this year and can't wait for cross country."