Training partners Washington, Miller share the shot put podium; Spring-Ford’s Mokonchu takes gold – PA Prep Live
COATESVILLE >> Ronde Washington of Perkiomen Valley and Jayden Miller of Boyertown have pushed each other almost every day for the past three years.
The results were released Friday in Coatesville when the two off-season training partners stood side by side on the podium at the District 1 Track and Field Championships.
Washington stood at the top with a gold medal around his neck and Miller stood to his right with a bronze medal.
“Personally, I think it’s great because you have someone who is your friend but also who you can compete with,” Washington said of competing with Miller. “It’s great friendly competition and it helps you want to do better.”
“I love it,” Miller said. “I train with Ronde every day and there’s nothing better than coming here and pushing each other to do better. It’s honestly my favorite thing.”
PHOTO GALLERY: District 1 Athletics Championships 5.20.22
Spring-Ford senior high jumper Nene Mokunchu joined Washington as the gold medal winner on Day 1 of the Districts. Methacton senior Addison Gormley followed her in the event with a bronze medal.
Owen J. Roberts freshman Gianna Leimeister won a silver in the javelin, and Methacton senior Coco Dunham won a bronze in the long jump to round out the top three in the PAC at the first day.
PAC shot put medalists – Washington and Miller – logged in for the first time at a throwing clinic in Millersville. The two PAC stars have been training together in the offseason since their sophomore year, most recently at Garage Strength in Fleetwood.
“Every day is almost like a competition, whether it’s in the weight room or in the circle,” Washington said. “We leave everything there.”
Miller finished fifth (51-7¾) in districts as a junior in 2021, while Washington narrowly missed the podium with ninth place (47-11).
Washington, coming off a meet record 60-6 at the PAC championships last week, couldn’t replicate his throw on Friday. But his 58-2 on his second attempt was more than two feet further than Haverford’s second-place Michael Powel’s throw (56-0).
“I just took my experiences from last year, all those times I almost got on the podium, I just took that, bottled it up,” Washington said. “I had a little chip on my shoulder, trained hard, worked hard and left it all in the weight room and the circle so I could come out on top.”
Miller improved on his spot from last year and finishes with a bronze medal shot of 55-04.50
“I was all over the place, suffered from a little tendonitis in my wrist, but it was good to get out there and drop a bombshell,” Miller said. “I did better than last year, so that was great.”
Miller finished 19th at the PIAA Championships last season when he was one of five non-seniors to compete in the event. Next week he will be joined in Shippensburg by his friend and training partner Washington.
The duo hope to push themselves to a new podium.
“It makes me really happy to see Ronde doing better and myself doing better,” Miller said. “Nothing better than working hard and seeing progress. I’m excited to go to the United States and see what we can do.
“I think it’ll be awesome, just like another day of practice,” Washington said.
Busy, Busy >> Spring-Ford senior Nene Mokonchu barely had a chance to catch her breath on Friday.
Even at the 3A girls’ high jump medal ceremony, Mokonchu had to sprint from the registration 200 meters before stepping onto the top step and putting on her gold medal just as her name was called.
Mokonchu, the state’s top-ranked high jumper, went 5-7 in the high jump to highlight her eventful day.
“It’s about confidence and seeing my confidence grow over the past few years is something that really touches me at least,” Mokonchu said.
Mokonchu was aiming to tie or surpass District 1’s record of 5-9, but had to attempt the jump just after running the 400 preliminaries.
She cleared 5-7 for a gold medal, swapped her shoes to run the 400, then changed them before attempting the jump 5-09.
“It’s really invigorating,” Mokonchu said of his busy day, “but at the same time it was a little disappointing because you still want to be focused while you’re doing something. Today I ‘ve seen with a lot of events that I’ve done that I was always in a hurry and therefore didn’t do as well as I wanted to, but that’s okay.
Mokonchu finished 12th in the 400 preliminaries, missing out on one of the top eight spots and a berth in Saturday’s final, but she still has another action-packed day scheduled.
She will help the Rams’ 4×400 relay and also hopes to make the 200 final, in which she is seeded sixth. The preliminaries were suspended Friday due to the weather.
“It was a little disappointing, but I still have chances,” Mokonchu said.
Bronze Warriors >> Methacton senior high jumper Addison Gormley has had a high bar to aim for throughout her career with Mokonchu still in the playoff field of her event.
This serves as both motivation and relief knowing that the bar is probably too high to reach.
“Honestly, it’s nice. I feel like it’s still something to pursue, but it also makes it a bit easier to focus on my own stuff,” Gormley said. “Honestly, it’s great to jump with her, a super nice girl and a great competitor.
For the second consecutive season, Gormley joined the Spring-Ford star on the podium. Gormley improved on his eighth place finish from last year with a bronze medal. She broke through the 5-3 mark on her first try to earn her career-best district result and a berth in the States.
“I felt really good,” Gormley said. “I didn’t rank really well last year in the districts…so I was just excited to be a little higher today. I felt confident.
Methacton senior Coco Dunham, who finished 12th in the long jump at last year’s district meets, surged 17-06.50 for third place to give the Warriors a second bronze medal.
“I try to come here calmly because sometimes I freak out at these big competitions,” Dunham said. “Today I was pretty calm and did what I had to do. I just jumped as best I could.
Dunham is also ranked third in the triple jump on Saturday, where she placed fifth last season.
Star in the Making >> Owen J. Roberts freshman Gianna Leimeister doesn’t want her freshman high school track season to end.
Leimeister surpassed his pre-season goal of reaching the PAC Javelin Championships a long time ago. A silver medal on Friday will send him to the state championship meet.
“My main focus at the start of the year was just to do PACs,” Leimeister said. “But I’ve won PACs and then I came here and was like, ‘OK, let’s just try to do our best. “”
Leimeister set a PR to win the PACs last week with a 106-10 throw. The freshman outdid herself again on Friday when she went 112-5 on her third pitch of the day.
The draw was behind only Marin Rosser of Villa Maria Academy (117-8) and just ahead of Haley Stefanik of Mount Saint Joseph Academy (112-1) and Nicole Rindone of Pennridge (112-00).
“Honestly, I just sort of do it,” Leimester said. “I was down there. I wasn’t throwing what I wanted, and then I was like, “I gotta do this to get to the states.”
Leimeister couldn’t put her finger on what exactly contributed to the recent jump in her performance, but she did note that she’s a fan of big competitions.
“Meeting new girls is really nice with dating, and you just want to raise the bar and do well,” Leimeister said.
Best for last >> Phoenixville senior Yash Agnihotri didn’t expect a medal on Friday. When he saw the weather forecast, however, he knew there would be a chance.
“If I could see the heat radiating off the track, I know a lot of people are going to give up, it’s going to be a tough race,” Agnihorti said. “I saw it happen. … I just knew I had to have a tough mindset. My coach really helps with that.
Agnihorti placed 19th in the men’s 1600 meters. He clocked a personal best 4:26.51 in the first of two runs.
With both runs completed, there was enough time for an eighth-place finish and a podium finish to wrap up his high school career.
“I didn’t expect to run in high school, but now I’m here,” Agnihorti said.
Place on the podium >> Methacton senior Vaughn Lackman was seventh in 1,600 (4:25.58) and Boyertown’s Cassandra Trujillo was seventh in discus (109-02) to round out the day’s individual PAC medallists. The Perkiomen Valley 4×800 girls finished sixth with a state qualifying time of 9:30.73.
Future prospects >> Defending District 1 and PIAA champion Norristown senior Jaden Brown added another accolade to his list of accomplishments on Friday. Brown ran a 10.57 in the 100 preliminaries to set a new District 1 record. … Spring-Ford senior Kaleigh Hudson (100), Perkiomen Valley sophomores Mackenzie Owens (100 and 300 hurdles) and Ashley Pickles (400) advanced to the final on Saturday as well as the States. Pottstown runner-up Tyrese Washington (300 hurdles) also advanced to Saturday’s final. … The Spring-Ford 4×100 Girls and Boys and the Norristown 4×100 Boys advanced to Saturday’s finals with state qualifying times. The Methacton 4×100 girls also posted a state qualifying time.