YATESVILLE — Try as they might, the Wyoming Area Warriors attempted to tire out a state bronze medalist for a fantastic finish.
It didn’t work. With their championship dreams on the line, the Holy Redeemer Royals needed one more win at the wire. Caroline Banas took them over the top.
Banas cleared 5 feet, 4 inches to win the high jump in the meet’s final event Thursday at Pittston Area, lifting Holy Redeemer over defending Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 girls track and field champion Wyoming Area, 77-73, and into first place in the division in a battle of unbeaten teams fighting for the league’s top spot.
“What we wanted to do,” Wyoming Area coach Joe Pizano said. “We tried to put that girl in a little tougher position. We made them run a hard 4x4 (1600 meter relay), after she ran the 200 and going into the high jump, back-to-back. But she’s a tough girl. It showed.”
It elevated 6-0 Holy Redeemer into first place in the WVC Division 2, while defending league champ Wyoming Area fell to 5-1 with one meet remaining in the regular season.
Holding a one-point lead with one event left, the Royals needed a win in the high jump to win the meet. They put their season on the legs of last year’s state high jump bronze medalist, and she didn’t disappoint.
Locked in a duel with Wyoming Area’s Shelby Stackhouse, Banas easily cleared the heights of 5-2 and 5-3 on her first tries, then needed two leaps to make 5-4.
The Royals can lock up the crown in their regular season finale Tuesday against Northwest.
The boys meet wasn’t quite as pressure-packed, as Wyoming Area rode three victories by Alex Chronowski and two by Ryan Murray to a 103-46 victory over Redeemer. Chronowski won the 200- and 400-meter dashes and ran on the 1600-meter relay team, while Murray won in long jump and high jump.
The girls meet jumped back and forth throughout, as both teams played to their strengths.
Wyoming Area’s Bree Bednarski did her best to give the Warriors a shot, winning the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the javelin throw and anchoring the 400-meter relay. Meanwhile, Stackhouse won the long jump and pole vault.
Wyoming Area swept the pole vault, long jump and javelin, while Holy Redeemer recorded sweeps in the 800, 1600- and 3200-meter runs, along with the discus.
“What hurt us is we didn’t get one point in any of the distance events,” Pizano said. “But we knew that going into the meet. But our kids did a great job, set a lot of (personal records) today. Holy Redeemer has a great group of girls.”
Still, the Royals needed the win from Banas in the high jump to avoid having the meet wind up tied. Banas had high praise for Stackhouse.
“She was a great competitor, Shelby Stackhouse,” said Banas, who ran over and hugged her opponent the minute the meet was decided. “It really helped knowing I had the (bronze medal) finish at states and the experience indoors. I have a lot of confidence now.”
The Warriors will need a victory against Lake-Lehman and a Northwest win against Redeemer in Tuesday’s regular season finales to share the WVC Division 2 title. Otherwise, Wyoming Area will turn its attention to the District 2 championships — where the Warriors will compete in Class 3A — and beyond while hoping for a big finish to the season.
“Our girls realize that they run their season to win the conference, after last year’s girls won it for the first time,” Pizano said. “But at the end of the day, they know their season isn’t over. They still have the district meet left, and hopefully, states. I think we have a chance to push for the 3A district championship on the girls’ side.”