Padua, San Marco and Tatnall win DIAA women’s athletics titles

DOVER – Brooke Duke jumped to the high jump bar, climbed above her height of 5ft 6in and crashed into the soft blue landing pit.

Then she leapt out of there, jumping again, this time for joy.

Duke’s reaction to a career-best performance that made her Division I champion was a common sight Saturday in Dover, where the DIAA Athletics Championships ended in temperatures that hit the low 90s.

“I was super excited and worked the whole season outdoors, so I finally got it,” she said.

Such satisfaction and elation were everywhere, often closely followed by a relief that, after leaving the track or leaving the site of a field event, one could seek the pleasant respite provided by the shade.

DIAA Athletics: Match results

Competition began on Friday with the 3,200 meter race and resumed on Saturday. DIAA officials moved the start two hours and delayed the start of the 1,600 meters so that they could run in the morning, when the thermometer was still registering in the 80 degrees.

But the meeting lasted a long time, and it was in the early evening that the championship teams – including one more than usual – left with their equipment.

Padova won their 10th straight team title, the last eight in Division I and the 20th overall since 1983. But the Pandas’ 211½ points were the most in the competition’s history, boys or girls, regardless the division, and the top 200 or more. Smyrna and St. Georges, who won two stints, finished second and third.

“We’re just very balanced and a real team, Pandas coach Marnie Giunta said, “and our girls handle that kind of competition well. They want to make everyone proud and carry on the tradition. They want to be a team that other alumni talk about.

Delaney Campanelli takes over from Tatnall teammate Katie Payne in the women's Division II 4x100 relay on Friday.

But Division II had two winners and a bit of controversy.

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Tatnall won the game-ending 4×400 relay with St. Mark’s fourth, leaving the two tied for the team title. But it was discovered that an incorrect scoring entry in a field test could have given St. Mark’s an extra, deciding point. Those responsible for the meeting met for an hour to try to make this decision.

“The manager claims he called a mark that was misspelled by the other person working,” Lake Forest meet manager Charlie Pollard said. “I can’t change that. Once it’s registered and entered, it’s final.

Pollard added that the decision was made unanimously by a jury of appeal.

“Results are results,” he said. “Officials are responsible for getting it right.”

That meant two trophy presentations and a pair of happy teams. DIAA Executive Director Donna Polk presented the championship trophy to the Tatnall athletes, who then returned it to her so she could present it to St. Marc. They will eventually get theirs.

St. Marc’s title was its second straight in Division II, last year ending a 28-year drought.

“On Friday we were up one point and I was hoping we would be up 15,” St. Mark coach Mike DiGennaro said. “Tatnall has just played. So I knew we were going to have a big day today to do it and some kids got involved.

“Stephanie Herrera went from last place to third in the last 100 meters of the mile [1,600]. If it stayed last, we lose states. When you win one, you can spend all day ‘What if? What if that?

Danni McGonigle won the high jump and triple jump for St. Mark’s, the latter in a divisional meet record 38-3. Tiffany Herrera swept the 1,600 and 3,200 and Sarah Hessler won the disc.

Arianna Montgomery of Tatnall anchors her team's Division II 4x100-meter relay victory during the DIAA State High School Track and Field Championships on Saturday, May 22, 2022 at Dover High School.

Tatnall’s Arianna Montgomery, a former junior Olympic champion who is only in her eighth year, won three individual events – the 100, 200 and the long jump – and was part of the winning 4×100 quartet to spark the Hornets. Alexis Tarlue (100 hurdles), Katie Payne (800) and Darian Harris (300 hurdles) were Tatnall’s other individual winners.

Pat Castagno, who led the Hornets to their 11th state title since 2007, said he could have done without all the drama. But he praised his team for a top performance.

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“The girls really came to compete,” Castagno said. “St. Mark’s has probably the most balanced team we’ve ever faced in Division II and we just had to line up and do what we could in the events where we were strong. And, in the end, look what happened. went up to [the 4×400]. I’m very, very proud of these girls.

Other Division II winners were Alyssa Napier of Conrad (400), Kirja Hickman of Lake Forest (shot put) and Sophie Maguire of Ursuline, whose pole vault of 11-3 was a meet record of Division II.

In Division I, Padua had the competition’s only four-time individual winner, runner-up Juliana Balon, who won the 100, 200, 400 and the long jump while relishing in the scorching elements of the day. His time of 57.84 out of 400 was a personal best.

“Time is tough but I like having raced in a club,” Balon said of Delaware Elite’s trips to Florida and Texas. “It’s so awesome. I was so excited, especially after the county meeting last week when it was raining and it was 50 degrees. I knew the weather this weekend would make up for that.

Her teammate Sophia Curtis, also in 10th grade, won the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles plus triple jump. And senior Mary Kate Dorsey owned the distance races, sweeping Friday’s 3,200m and then winning Saturday’s 1,600m. Padova also had the pole vault winner in Elce Walsh.

Middletown’s Isabelle Walsh thwarted a Pandas sweep of the individual track events, fending off three Padova runners to win the 800 after missing the New Castle County meet with knee and foot injuries last week. After finishing second four seconds into the morning 1600m, she wasn’t sure she had what it took in her.

“I was extremely tired and I didn’t know if I could do this,” Walsh said. “Padua have extremely strong runners and incredible strategy and there were three of them, so I just went out and thought I’m going to give my best.”

The other Division I individual winners were Mount Pleasant Rhythm discus thrower Hairston and Smyrna Roarie shot putter Glenn-Rossum.

Have an idea for a gripping local sports story or is there an issue that needs public scrutiny? Contact Kevin Tresolini at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @kevintresolini. Support local journalism byby subscribing to delawareonline.com.

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