Indoor Track Team Places 2nd at the Philadelphia Catholic League Championships
The La Salle College High School Indoor Track & Field Team finished as the PCL Runner-Up on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at Lehigh University. Cardinal O'Hara finished first with 125 points to the Explorers 108 points. The team received outstanding performances from senior captains Brendan Bilotta, Levi Hardy, and sophomore Charles Headen.
The day began in great fashion with the 4x200m relay of Levi Hardy, Tabriz Bumpas, Shane Lewis, and Charles Headen running a season best, and near State Qualifier of 1:36.03. The 4x200 relay finished 3rd place after coming in seeded 6th. Next on the track was a 3rd place finish (for Honorable Mention All-Catholic) of the Distance Medley Relay team of 1200m leg Brendan Price, 400m leg Peter Nelson, 800m leg Matt Magee, and 1600m leg Michael Phayre. Then Charles Headen, running his second event of the day already qualified for the 60m finals, and would finish 3rd overall in 7.16, just off the State qualifying mark of 7.15.
Next up was the highlight event of the day – the mile. Senior captain Brendan Bilotta delivered one of the most exciting races in La Salle Track & Field history. Running stride for stride behind O'Hara's trio of milers, all ranked as among the top mid-distance runners in the State, Bilotta followed the fast pace through 1200m. Then, after momentarily looking as if he might fall of the pack he summoned an incredible kick to get past all three of the O'Hara runners and capture his first ever PCL individual title in 4:21.28, a new personal best, the #3 time in Pennsylvania, and the #59 time in the United States. Following Bilotta's emotional win fellow senior captain Levi Hardy ran a season best and State qualifying 8.60 to capture his own PCL crown in the 60m High Hurdles.
At this point the Explorers were leading the close and exciting team battle. They had received some phenomenal contributions from their field event athletes. Junior Rodney Walker threw 42'3.25" to take 5th in the shot put. Senior Mike Koller jumped 20'5" to finish 5th in the long jump. Then came the big field highlights – 1st, 3rd, and 6th in the Pole Vault from the trio of Eddie Eason (PCL Champion), Jeff Beatty, and Chris Losier, all jumping season bests of 13'0", 11'6", and 10'0" respectively. The High Jump also saw a trio of scorers in 3rd, 4th, and 5th from Mike Koller, Jack Ewell, and Jack Carlidge at 6'0", 5'10", and 5'8" respectively. And finally junior Tabriz Bumpas had one of the best single day improvements jumping a season best of nearly 3" in the triple jump of 42'6.75" to finish 2nd (after being seeded 7th).
As the meet moved to the afternoon session the Explorers were clinging to a narrow lead. Headen returned to the track again in the 200m to finish 4th in a State qualifying 23.33 scoring important points for the team. Next up was the 800m, and O'Hara's big three mid-distance runner delivered a big 1-2-3 performance to score 24 points and erase the Explorers 12 point lead. Stefan Sutton was able to post a 5th place performance in the 800m in 2:02.85 to keep the deficit to just 10 points. The final individual event of the day was the 3,000m. And Bilotta captured his second title of the day in 9:12.99, using a blistering kick of 30.0 for his final 200 to take the win. Behind him were three more O'Hara runners in 2-3-4 virtually securing the team title for them. 5th and 6th place were big race PRs from juniors Corey Driscoll and Sean Princivalle of 9:28.07 and 9:29.68. Trailing by 15 points going into the relays the Explorers got some great performances but came up just short. In the 4x400m relay the team of Mike Bishof, Peter Nelson, Tabriz Bumpas, and Levi Hardy ran a seasons best 4x400 time of 3:34.86 to gamely place 4th in a very fast race. Then the 4x800m relay closed out the day with the team of Brendan Price, Michael Pahyre, Ian Challingsworth, and Stefan Sutton placing 3rd in 8:33.77 in a gritty race.
The Explorers runner-up finish marked the 8th consecutive top 2 finish in the PCL for the Cross Country and Track & Field program. The team will next head to Lehigh on Saturday, February 22nd for the Track & Field Coaches Association of Greater Philadelphia Meet of Champions, and then onto the PA State Championship at Penn State University on Saturday, March 1st.