Emma Gee, Grace Mancini, McKenna Keegan, Sanaa Barnes, Isabella Whitaker Punch Their Ticket to Eugene
May 29, 2021 –
The final day of competition for women’s track and field in the East Preliminaries ran today. There was a full slate of Philly school athletes trying to get to the national championships meet in Eugene, Oregon from June 9 through 12. It was a good day for five Philly college athletes who will be going to Oregon and compete for a national title. McKenna Keegan and Sanaa Barnes form Villanova will compete in the meet. Keegan will run in the 800 Meters. Barnes will be in the high jump. Emma Gee of Temple and Grace Mancini from La Salle will be facing each other again in the 3000 Meter Steeplechase with the national crown on the line. Isabella Whitaker represents Penn in the 400 Meters.
Let’s look at the results from today.
3000 Meter Steeplechase
Emma Gee of Temple and Grace Mancini of La Salle are automatic qualifiers for the national meet in Eugene. Gee finished third in her heat running a 9:58.12. Mancini was second in the third heat covering the distance in 9:58.80. Gee ran a consistent race staying in the top group and got the advancement position by just under 9 seconds. Mancini got out quickly establishing herself in the lead group. The La Salle graduate student took the lead after the first lap. She ran a lap 4 split of 1:19.73, the fastest in that segment. This was an event with four Philly runners in the field as Lydia Olivere and Anna Helwigh of Villanova ran in the second heat with Gee. Neither Wildcat would qualify. Olivere ran a 10:14.38 to place 18th. She tried to catch up at the end turning in a split-fastest 1:16.44 in the final lap. Helwigh finished 38th with a time of 10:40.82. The field of 12 that advanced (3 top finishers in each heat plus the next three fastest times) is headed by Gabrielle Jennings of Furman who crossed the finish line in 9:40.53, her personal best.
McKenna Keegan of Villanova qualifies for the nationals running a personal best 2:01.25 to finish second in heat 2. Alanna Lally of Temple participated in the heat and finished with a time of 2:05.41. Keegan ranked third overall and Lally was 18th. Keegan was in the top group and ensured her place in the qualifiers running a 1:01.30 second split, the fastest in the final lap. Michaela Meyer of Virginia set a personal best and a facility record of 2:00.40 as the top qualifier.
Three local schools had athletes competing in the event, and Villanova’s Sanaa Barnes highlighted the high jump for the local area. She qualified for the nationals with a personal best height of 1.82m, good for fifth overall. Freshman Roschell Clayton of Villanova had a respectable showing finishing three places out of a top twelve qualifying spot. Clayton cleared 1.77m. Aisha Brown of Temple and Claire Moreau of Penn tied for 30th at 1.72m. The top qualifier from the East is Quintella Johnson of Eastern Michigan with a personal best getting over the bar at 1.82m.
Villanova representative Grayce French placed 17th overall, five spots shy of being a top twelve qualifier, with a throw of 51.91m. The longest throw in the event was by Chanice Love of Florida State at 61.22m, a season best.
Isabella Whitaker of Penn advanced to Eugene running a 51.92, her personal best. Whitaker came in fifth in her heat, but advanced on time. She is ranked 10th overall. The top three in the three heats plus the next three best times would move on. The fastest time of 51.03 was run by Natassha McDonald of Alabama. It is a facility record.
Tamara Grahovac of Penn turned in her longest distance of 12.02m to place 42nd. The top qualifier from the meet is Ruta Lasmane of Florida State who hopped, skipped, and jumped 14.15m.
5000 Meter Run
Grace Mancini ran in another race an hour and a half after qualifying for the nationals in the 3000 Meter Steeplechase. She did not fare as well in this race placing 36th with a time of 16:47.42. Grace Moore of Temple ran in the other heat in the race but did not finish. The top qualifier in the East is Mercy Chelengat of Alabama who ran a 15:45.59.
4 x 400 Relay
The Villanova team of Danielle Burns, Madison Martinez, Amari Onque-Shabazz, and Brynne Sumner ran a time of 3:39.68 and placed 20th. The top twelve go to Eugene. Florida, who ran in the same heat as Villanova, is the top qualifier covering the distance in 3:27.51.
Written By: Glenn Papazian