Henderson's Russell runs to two District 1 titles

Central Bucks South's Brianna Stratz receives the baton from Alexa Kwapinski in the Class AAA 4x800 relay. The Titans set a meet record.
Central Bucks South's Brianna Stratz receives the baton from Alexa Kwapinski in the Class AAA 4x800 relay. The Titans set a meet record. (LAURENCE KESTERSON / For The Inquirer)
Posted: May 20, 2014

Coatesville stadium's public address announcer asked the runners to approach the starting line. The boys' Class AAA 1,600-meter final was next, he said.

Some of the runners sprinted out of the red tent they were waiting under. Others walked. West Chester Henderson's Tony Russell - the favorite to win at Sunday's District 1 championship meet - was in the middle. He waved to a friend waiting on the infield.

He talked to his teammate, who was one of the race's 12 runners.

Russell said he used to "get jumpy" before big races. But not anymore. He stays relaxed and it showed.

The senior bound for Penn State took a lead after 300 meters and kept building on it. He won the race in 4 minutes, 16.20 seconds.

Russell looked over both of his shoulders when he crossed the finish line. No one was near. The next-closest finisher was three seconds behind.

"Anytime I'm in the front, I hear whispers in my ear," said Russell.

"It's almost like there's someone right behind me. So I always look back. But when I looked back, they were far away. So I chilled it in the last few meters."

He earlier won the 3,200-meter race in 9:07.68. Russell will enter next weekend's PIAA championships at Shippensburg University as a favorite in both events.

Sheva cruises. Pennridge's Marissa Sheva and two other runners jogged together on the turf infield after finishing the girls' 3,200 race. The trio traveled 20 yards, turned around, and ran the other direction.

After blazing the field to win the Class AAA title, Sheva found peers. She won the race in 10:30.15.

It was 18 seconds faster than second place. She ran her final lap alone. Sheva later won the 1,600 championship in 4:53.97. It was 7 seconds faster than second place.

Sheva said she surprised herself with her 3,200 finish, which was the state's second-best this season.

"I was hoping that I would have some girls with me and a couple would go out with me," she said.

"But I knew that I wanted to run fast, regardless if the girls would go out with me. But it was tougher than it could have been."

Titans set mark. Central Bucks South set a meet record with a first-place finish in the girls' Class AAA 4x800 relay final.

The team of Alexa Kwapinski, Kaitlin Poiesz, Amber Stratz, and Brianna Stratz finished in 8:58.18, which bettered Strath Haven's 2012 mark of 9:04.65.

It is the nation's No. 2 finish this season and second all-time in state history.

Records and titles. Cheltenham's Ciara Leonard (13.7) set a meet record in the girls' Class AAA 100 hurdles. The first-place finish was the state's top time this season and the nation's seventh best. The Panthers won the AAA boys' and girls' team titles. . . . Ridley's Malik Jones (47.06) set a meet record in the boys' Class AAA 400 and won the 200. . . . Chris Stone of Springfield (Montco) set a meet record in the boys' Class AA pole vault with a mark of 14 feet even. Delco Christian won the AA boys' team title. . . . Christopher Dock won the Class AA girls' team title.

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