DOVER — The Saint Mark’s girls’ track and field team entered the final relay at the state championship meet May 20-21, the 4×400 relay, with a 10-point lead over Tatnall, which always excels in the running events. The Hornets used a strong performance to take first place and a temporary five-point lead over Saint Mark’s. If the Spartans finished any lower than fourth, they would lose hold of first place.
Fortunately for them, they rallied after a slow start on a sweltering day at Dover High School. The anchor, Tiffany Herrera, held off a challenge from Sussex Academy to finish fourth in the event and forge a final tie as the Spartans shared a portion of the DIAA Division II girls title. It is just the second deadlock in state spring track history; Dover and William Penn split the girls’ Division I title in 1999.
For the Spartans, this is the program’s fifth championship. The others came in 1974, 1981 and 1992, all in Division I, and last year in Division II.
“It was a fantastic experience to be crowned back-to-back champions and be able to celebrate right next to our boys,” DiGennaro said. “The Tatnall athletes were tremendous opponents, and it was a pleasure to be able to battle up against them all weekend long.”
The girls got off to a good start on May 20, the first day of the meet, as Sarah Hessler took gold in the discus They also got points from Anna Palm and Elena Foresta, who finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Hessler also took second in the shot put. Danni McGonigle was a double winner in the high jump and triple jump, and she was second in the long jump, an event where Tatnall took first, third and fourth. McGonigle set a meet record in the triple jump.
DiGennaro said Saint Mark’s knew that’s where its advantage was. He gave credit to Hessler for helping the team get off to a great start, and to McGonigle for battling back from an injury to win two events in her first competition since April 10.
In the track portion of the meet, Herrera captured both the 1,600 and 3,200. The Spartans’ other win was in the 4×200, which consisted of Alexis Donovan, Arianna Donovan, Reagan Garibaldi and Ava Malgiero.
Saint Mark’s also had top-three finishes from the following athletes: Stephanie Herrera in the 1,600; Arianna Donovan in the 300-meter hurdles; Malgiero in the pole vault; and Isabella McKenna in the triple jump.
DiGennaro pointed to the Herrera sisters and Natalie Donaldson, all seniors who have delivered for the Spartans for four years.
“They raced in three events with temperatures in the 90s and scored over 40 points for the team,” he said.
“Our program has been growing for a few years now, and it’s so wonderful to see the athletes get rewarded for their hard work,” he continued. “Nothing is a given in this sport, but they are continually believing in the goals of the team.”
There were other Catholic school athletes who had top-three results. Ursuline senior Sophie Maguire won the pole vault. The others were Danielle Wooten, Ursuline, third in the 200-meter run and second in the high jump; Ursuline, third in ther 4×100 and 4×400; Archmere, third in the 4×800; and Gabriella Paolella, Ursuline, third in both the shot put and the discus.
Ursuline finished fourth overall, and Archmere was sixth.
Photos courtesy of Saint Mark’s High School and Mike Lang.