By Bill Gelman
When Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., started conditioning in the fall for the indoor track season, head coach Lincoln Townsend made it clear to his small group of girls they needed to earn respect. It required several months of hard work and dedication, along with a late February trip to Penn State University where they competed against the top high school teams from around Pennsylvania. That event — the PTFCA Indoor State Championship — took place on Sunday. If other teams had doubts as to whether the Saints could hang with the best, they don’t anymore. The East Passyunk Crossing-based squad finished with 60 points. State College was the next closest with 35 points.
“I told them they are not going to earn respect until they beat the whole state,” Townsend said. “They did that [on Sunday]. They ran kind of aggressive and angry, with a chip on their shoulder.”
Neumann-Goretti senior Sydni Townsend won the 400-meter dash with a time of 55.17, seconds while sophomore teammate Mykala Perry placed second with a time of 55.65 seconds. Townsend also anchored the winning 4×400 relay (3:49.76). The team also claimed the top prize in the 4×200 (1:41.35). The strong showing in the relay events included a second-place result in the 4×800 (9:21.03).
In the 200, Townsend (24.58) and Perry (24.71), placed third and fourth, respectively.
Besides respect from around the state, the Neumann-Goretti athletes also earned a break — no practice this week. But the coach has no plans of making it a long-term thing as the group needs to start conditioning for the spring season. Next week, it’s back in the weight room. Yes, they may be smiling about the state championship moment, but with the next season fast approaching, it’s time to hit the reset button.
“I am definitely doing to bring them back down to earth,” Townsend said. “[The state championship is over]. It’s time to forget about it and create a new set of goals. We are going to be back in the weight room on Monday like nothing happened.”