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Penn Hills athletes reach state indoor track meet |

Penn Hills athletes reach state indoor track meet

| Friday, February 24, 2017 11:00 p.m

The Penn Hills indoor track team was represented by a trio of athletes at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association state indoor championship last weekend at State College.

Senior Isaiah Bailey made a return trip in the 800-meter run, while juniors Emmanuel Mitchell qualified in the high jump and Jaden Rouse in the triple jump.

“I’m real proud of them. All three of them have a real good chance of medaling,” coach Lee Zelkowitz said before the meet.

Bailey finished first (1:59.46) at the Youngstown State meet Jan. 21. He started the season with a second-place finish (2:02.05) on Jan. 7. The following weekend Bailey finished third (2:00.56).

Bailey, who qualified as one of the top-24 runners, finished first (1:58.72) at the final Tri-State Track Coaches Association meet Feb. 11 and cut his time even further with a second-place finish (1:58.15) at the TSTCA championship Feb. 18.

Mitchell, who qualified as one of the top-19 jumpers in the high jump, took first (6-4) at the TSTCA meet at Edinboro on Jan. 14 and also in final TSTCA meet (6-3) on Feb. 11. He played third (6-1) at the TSTCA championship.

“Emmanuel jumped a 6-5 already. In one meet, he just kicked the bar when he was going for 6-6 when we were looking at the video,” Zelkowitz said. “It just takes one jump. I think he can get a lot higher than what he has jumped this year.”

Rouse, who qualified as one of the top-15 jumpers in the triple jump, took first (42-4.5) at the TSTCA meet at Edinboro on Jan. 14. Rouse also won (43-8) at the Youngstown State meet Jan. 21.

In the final TSTCA meet, Rouse finished first at 42-7, and was fourth (43.05) at the TSTCA championship.

“It helps them because there is a lot of competition,” Zelkowitz said. “Being at the state meet helps with the nerves, the preparation and knowing that you can compete in those conditions with that type of competition. The more that they can do it the better.”

The Indians were working to qualify their boys 1,600-meter relay team of Bailey, senior Azeriyus Britt, senior Jeremy Hamilton and junior Julian Major but finished shy of the top 24.

“It was disappointing not getting the boys 4-by-400 up there. They had a really good chance but it just didn’t happen,” Zelkowitz said. “I think they are going to do well in the outdoor. I thought it was a very good experience for them. They just didn’t put a good race together.”

The Indians also failed to qualify a girl athlete in any event for the state meet, which is the first time since the early 2000s. The indoor program was initially started by Zelkowitz during the 1999-2000 school year.

Andrew John is freelance writer.

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