Penman bests her PR to take 100 gold

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Williamsport’s Katie Penman runs in the girls Class AAA 100 at Williamsport on Saturday.

Katie Penman had no visions of grandeur about beating Selinsgrove’s Megan Hoffman in the 100 final at the District 4 track and field championships on Saturday. The Williamsport sophomore had resigned herself to battling to hit the state qualifying standard.

Hoffman has held ownership papers on the 100 at the district meet for each of the last two years. She’s been the standard-bearer in the event not only at districts, but at invitationals throughout her career.

Then something interesting happened. Halfway through Saturday’s final, Penman was on Hoffman’s hip. Then she found an extra gear and crossed the finish line in first place. It took the race of Penman’s life to unseat Hoffman, but dadgum if she didn’t do it.

Penman bested her 100-meter personal record (PR) by two-tenths of a second to earn her first individual gold at the District 4 championships at Williamsport’s STA Stadium yesterday. It was one of two individual events she won in the Class AAA meet, and she was one of three area girls to earn gold on the final day of the district meet.

Milton’s Leah Bergey won both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and Jersey Shore’s Reba Lorson won the javelin. All three athletes advanced to next week’s PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University along with Williamsport’s 400 relay team.

Penman established her PR in the 100 last season at the PHAC meet, running a cool 12.60 seconds to finish second behind Hoffman. But Penman has been in that 12.6 range just once this season, and it came at last week’s PHAC meet.

But when it counted Saturday, the sophomore laid down the greatest race of her career, finishing the 100 in 12.40 seconds. Hoffman was second in 12.46, hitting the state qualifying standard to earn a spot in next week’s state meet.

It was the first time Hoffman lost an individual race at the District 4 meet since May 22, 2016 when she finished second to Williamsport’s Heaven Maeshack in both the 100 and 200.

“I honestly didn’t think I had a chance. It wasn’t a goal that I had,” Penman said. “I just wanted to get to states.”

Consider that of the 11 individual races Hoffman has run at the District 4 meet in her career, she’s won eight of them, including Saturday’s 200 final. She had won six consecutive individual events at the district meet prior to yesterday’s 100 final, taking first in the 100, 200 and 400 each of the last two seasons.

Then consider in six previous matchups in the 100 for Penman and Hoffman, Hoffman was 6-0. Penman has always been a little slower out of the blocks before reaching her top speed in the race. Saturday she felt like she got out much better and 50 meters in when she was within striking distance, Penman knew she could win the race.

“I knew I had more in the tank,” Penman said. “Usually I like to catch up to people, but I was with her from the start. I got a significant PR compared to what I usually run.”

After qualifying for states a year ago in just the 400, Penman is looking forward to being a little more busy in Shippensburg next week. She’ll run a leg on the district champion 400 relay team to go along with her spots in the 100 and 400.

She couldn’t hide her excitement Saturday to finally break through and reach the top step of the podium. Penman is hoping Saturday’s success can help propel her through next week’s state meet.

“This really boosts my confidence,” Penman said. “I have a good seed time going into states, too. I feel really good.”

Lorson has waited until the best time of the season to unleash some of her best throws of the year. He winning throw of 125 feet, 1 inch Saturday in the AAA javelin matched her second-best throw of the season.

In the weeks leading up to last week’s PHAC meet, Lorson wasn’t living up to the results she thought she should be having. A year ago she was a consistent 120-plus foot thrower. Prior to last week, she had thrown 120 feet just or more just once this year, and she had been nowhere near close to her 129-foot PR.

“I think it set in that I let people get too close to me and I need to set a tone that it’s not going to happen,” Lorson said. “I think I let the expectations in my head a little too much and I was letting it get to me too much and I need to stop it and show up.”

She’s shown up in a big way the last two weeks. She eclipsed 128 feet last week on a grass runway at Central Columbia to win the PHAC meet by 10 feet. She followed it up with the 125-1 yesterday to win her first district championship.

The Shippensburg University recruit gets to throw at her future home runway for the second consecutive season next week and she’s hoping having already been through the rigors of a state meet previously will help her excel. Her 128-foot throw last week is 14th best in AAA in the state this year and is well within striking distance of the kind of throw which can earn her a spot on the podium.

“The last two weeks I knew what I was capable of, but I needed to prove it to everyone else,” Lorson said. “This definitely gives me the confidence I needed heading into states.”