U. Dublin senior wins state high jump

Taylor Morgan of Upper Dublin with her gold medal in Class AAA for the high jump .
Taylor Morgan of Upper Dublin with her gold medal in Class AAA for the high jump . (KALIM A. BHATTI)
Posted: May 26, 2012

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - Since winning the indoor state championship in the girls' high jump as a freshman, Upper Dublin's Taylor Morgan had battled through inconsistency and misfortune.

That freshman year at the outdoor state meet, she pulled a hamstring. Back at indoors as a sophomore, Morgan tumbled to the ground after slipping on a jump attempt, leaving the competition empty-handed.

A disappointing finish at the District 1 meet last year barely qualified her for the state meet, in which she placed fifth.

Over time, the adversity took a toll on Morgan's psyche. At times, she looked sharp, highlighted by a district title in 2009. Still, no repeat at a state meet.

That changed Friday at Shippensburg University, where Morgan finished her high school career just as it had begun: with state gold.

Morgan's high jump of 5 feet, 7 inches earned her the Class AAA girls' title on a sun-kissed day at the PIAA track and field championships. She cleared four jumps all on her first attempt and won by a full inch.

After clinching the title, she attempted a personal record of 5-9, but was unable to clear the bar.

Morgan had been building toward this moment. She placed fourth at indoor nationals this past winter and was the top U.S. jumper at the Penn Relays in April. She won her second District 1 title last weekend with a jump of 5-6 at Coatesville.

"It's hard that my first season of high school I was able to come away with a win and then I hadn't won again [until] now," said Morgan, a senior bound for Princeton. "I really did come full-circle. It was really nice to accomplish that goal of winning again."

Strath Haven junior Wellington Zaza joined Morgan as a state champ, winning the boys' AAA triple jump with a mark of 50-1/2, becoming the third Delaware County athlete ever to hit 50 feet in the event.

"It means a lot," Zaza said. "I came a long way. Indoor was a rough season, but I'm just thankful to be the third Delco runner to get 50. Wasn't asking for anything else but to get 50."

Local Districts 1 and 12 accounted for 17 field medals Friday, including second-place showings by Cheltenham's Ciara Andrews, a St. Joseph's basketball signee, in the long jump and Bensalem's Tyra Roberts in the shot put. Strath Haven's Rachel Van Metre claimed two medals: fifth place in the high jump and seventh in the long jump.

On the track, a few former state champs ran qualifying times for Saturday's semifinals and finals.

Penn Wood sprinter Eric Futch advanced in the 100-meter dash, 200 dash and 300 hurdles and as part of the Patriots' 4x400 relay.

Futch initially was suspended for states after receiving a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct at the district meet, but he won an appeal Thursday morning. The state-record holder in the 300 hurdles, he admitted to pulling up with two hurdles to go in winning his preliminary heat Friday.

"I shut it down. I figured I got more races to go," the Houston recruit said. "No need to use all my energy and go all out if it's not the finals until tomorrow."

Though he breezed to a third-place time of 4 minutes, 18.54 seconds in his 1,600 run, defending champ and state-record holder Drew Magaha, of Upper Moreland, continued to battle lingering effects of mononucleosis. He said that he needed "motivation" and that he's "not really mentally there."

"Just trying to get back in tune," Magaha said. "Been out of tune for a while, and I think it's time for me to get back in."

La Salle junior Tom Coyle eked out a preliminary victory over Magaha in 4:18.49.

Gwynedd-Mercy junior Emma Keenan, the defending state champ, breezed through the prelims of the girls' 800, winning her heat in 2:13.38.


Contact Evan Burgos at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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