Pereira kicks it up a notch
B OB FORD/TIMES NEWS Palmerton's Jessica Pereira makes the turn en route to a first place finish in the 3A 400 with a time of 58.91.
ORWIGSBURG - Palmerton's Jessica Pereira knew she was coming into the second day of the District 11 Track and Field Championships with a target on her back.
Pereira was, after all, the top seed in the Class AAA 400, the second seed in the 200, the third seed in the 100 and a part of the Palmerton 400 relay team that stood a very good chance of not only medaling, but possibly earning a trip to the PIAA Championships in Shippensburg next week.
Not to mention the fact that she was also a four-time Class AA medalist last season.
After Thursday's action at Blue Mountain High School, Pereira left little doubt that she can go toe-to-toe with competition on any level, as she finished fourth in the 100 and 200, first in the 400 and fifth with the 400 relay team.
Her performances in the 100, 400 and with the the 400 relay team earned her a spot in all three events at states next week.
With such high expectations for her individual events, Pereira admitted that the team's success in the relay was somewhat surprising, even though they had already broken the school record on multiple occasions earlier this year.
"The relay, for me, was unexpected," said Pereira. "I'm so glad that we made the time and our team definitely deserves it because we've worked really hard.
"We really clicked this year so it's awesome for the freshmen, Kaelyn Englert and Brianna Doherty, to have the opportunity to go to states."
As for her individual events, Pereira indicated that she may forgo the 100 at states to concentrate on the relay and the 400, which she won comfortably with a time of 58.91. Palmerton's Jaclyn Wood was fourth in the event with a time of 1:01.22.
Pereira's teammate, Lauryn Solt, will join her in Shippensburg on the relay team and in the high jump, where she took second with a mark of 5-4, which was her best of the season.
To achieve her goal and get to states, Solt knew that she would have to step up her game from the outset.
"I was really, really nervous because my high this year was 5-2 and I had to make 5-3 to go to states," Solt said. "I was seeded sixth so I came in hoping it would happen, but I knew I had such good competition that it was going to be really hard to pull off."
When it comes to competition, there's almost none left for Tamaqua's Christine Streisel, who won the Class AA javelin for the third year in a row with a throw of 144-0 to easily qualify for states. Teammates Paige Demetriades and Morgan Boyle were second and third, respectively. With her second place finish, Demetriades will join Streisel in Shippensburg.
Coming in as the top seed and two-time champion, Streisel admitted she had high hopes for the event, one that she is ranked nationally in.
"I definitely have really high expectations for myself," Streisel said. "The season hasn't really been going the way I want, so I think every meet has kind of been up in the air because I don't know how much confidence I'm going to have.
"Today wasn't exactly what I wanted. I would have loved to hit 150-0 since I haven't done that this year, but 144-0 isn't bad. It's not what I wanted, but I'll take it."
With only one meet in her high school career left, Streisel knows that much of the physical work is done and all that is left now is working on her mental approach.
"I think I just need to build confidence and I think today helped a little bit," said Streisel. "But as a senior, I've done so much working out and so many technique things that I just need to build confidence in myself and know that I can do it and just trust myself and relax when I'm out there throwing. Just let everything happen that already should happen."
Unlike Streisel, Demetriades has a slightly different outlook on what lies ahead.
"I'm just excited to be able to go," Demetriades said of her opportunity. "I didn't really have huge expectations so I'm just excited to go."
Tamaqua's Chelsea Frantz took third in the Class AA 800 meter run with a time of 2:27.93 and was later given a chance to go to states after first place Elizabeth Chikotas of Saucon Valley withdrew from the PIAA Championships next week to concentrate on her other events. Northern Lehigh's Bryanna Tomkins took fourth in the event with a time of 2:29.08.
Another pair of teammates enjoyed success in the Class AAA throwing events, as Lehighton's Gwen Remaley took second in the shot put with a throw of 39-9 to qualify for states while Sarah Keer joined her on the podium with a throw of 36-6 . Remaley just missed qualifying for states in the discus, finishing third with a throw of 112-2.
Remaley knew there was potential for more in the shot put, an event where she was the top seed, but wasn't able to improve her mark due to physical limitations.
"It was really difficult because my legs were cramping up and I had to get the trainer," Remaley said. "And that just made everything difficult.
"I definitely think I could have done better and I just kind of got down on myself. I'm happy with the throw, but I think I could have done better if the conditions were ideal, I guess."
Northwestern Lehigh's Haley Yost and Rachel Cerrone qualified for states with finishes of third and fourth, respectively in the Class AAA 1600 meter run. Yost and Cerrone had already qualified for states on Wednesday as part of the winning 3200 relay team.
Northern Lehigh's Jessica Olewine, the top-seed in the Class AA triple jump, qualified for states with a second place finish and a mark of 34-1 1/2. The sophomore couldn't hide her excitement after the event, knowing she'll have a chance to compete with the best in the state in less than a week.
"It's just an honor to be here and finish second," Olewine said. "I just want to go to states and do my best, just like I did here."