State champion Dallastown High School sprinter fueled by desire to be 'great'

Dallastown's Kristian Phennicie leads the pack in the boys' 100-meter sprint during the Ray Geesey Inivatational track-and-field competition in Dallastown on April 29. Phennicie won the event.

There comes a time in every elite athlete’s life when it’s time to buckle down, focus on future goals and make the choice to do whatever it takes to reach those goals.

For Dallastown High School sprinter Kristian Phennicie, that time came during his junior year.

Phennicie decided that he wanted to run track in college and he would do whatever it takes to be “great.” He started to lift more weights and work on his times. He wanted to be one of the best sprinters in the state.

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His hard work in that offseason paid off. He became a star in his third season and helped Dallastown have a successful season. 

Phennicie is now a Penn State commit and he’s also the defending PIAA Class 3-A state champion in the 200-meter dash. He was also fifth in the 100 dash at the state meet last year.

This season, Phennicie has already swept the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes at prestigious invitationals at Shippensburg and West Chester. He’s also the anchor on a strong Dallastown 400 relay.

According to the website, his 100 time of 10.57 seconds at Shippensburg is ranked No. 1 in the state this spring among high school runners. He ran a :21.45 in the 200 at Shippensburg, which bettered his 2021 state-winning time of :21.62.

This Friday evening on his own track, Phennicie begins another postseason journey with the York-Adams Championships. That will be followed, in quick order, by the District 3 Class 3-A meet and the PIAA Class 3-A state meet. After his success last season and this spring, expectations for him will be sky high at all three meets.

It has been a quick ascent for the 5-foot, 11-inch, 170-pounder. A once unknown commodity has turned into one of the best runners in the state.

"I know what I want to do and that took some time,” he said. “I wish I had taken it more seriously earlier. But I want to be among the greats, I want to run in the Olympics, and I want to be great in college. I want to be great."

Dallastown's Kristian Phennicie reacts after winning the 3-A boys' 200-meter dash event at 21.75 during PIAA District III Track & Field Championships in Seth Grove Stadium at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Saturday, May 22, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Getting into track: Born in Baltimore, Phennicie moved to Dallastown at age 2. Track wasn't always the easiest sport for Phennicie to get into. His first sport of choice was football, but after suffering a concussion, his mother encouraged him to try different sports. Track ended up being the one he chose, but it wasn't always an easy road.

He preferred to compete in only outdoor track at first, finding the indoor version more uncomfortable. The former football player said that "he started to doubt himself in indoor track,” but eventually found his confidence.

He didn't participate in indoor track during his junior season, however, and it paid dividends in the outdoor season. He rested his body and got stronger. COVID also put a damper on his motivation to run, but after the pandemic slowed, the star runner realized it was time to run like he never had before.

"After COVID, I started lifting and really getting into the gym," he said. "I realized how important conditioning is, as well, this past offseason and have been focused on making sure I'm not pushing my body over the top. Not lifting too much, getting my rest in when needed."

Feeling comfortable at Penn State: Phennicie proved enough to the college coaches to get offers from NCAA Division I programs, before eventually settling on Penn State, a school where the senior almost immediately felt comfortable.

"The first visit I knew,” he said. “My coaches and teammates were really motivating. They still text me every week to see how I'm doing. The facility and everything is great. I just went there and knew this was the school for me. Penn State can get me there and I can get a great education as well."

Phennicie will major in kinesiology, which is the study of the body's movement. It's a topic he said has intrigued him in his time at school.

Beginning next season, he will have plenty of chances to prove that he belongs at a Penn State track program that has been successful and groomed quality athletes over the years. He knows how important being mentally ready will be.

"I know I have to have the right mindset. I know I have to come every day ready to do the job," he said. 

Highly motivated: Phennicie has the motivation to be great and has learned plenty since picking track as his main sport.

"I have learned to trust the process. It will work out. Keep your motivation up. Those good days will come. It's never easy," he said.

Time will tell if Phennicie is right.

Reach Dante Green at or on Twitter at @TaySean14.