Spring Grove's Campbell, Bahn lead local standouts at District 3 track meet

Laila Campbell and Ella Bahn combined to win five gold medals for the Rockets at the district championships.

Thomas Kendziora
York Dispatch

York-Adams League athletes captured 12 gold medals at the PIAA District 3 track and field championships over the weekend at Shippensburg University. Spring Grove’s dynamic duo accounted for five of them.

The district meet was the latest showcase for junior Laila Campbell’s blazing speed and freshman Ella Bahn’s all-around athleticism. After putting themselves in position with preliminary prowess Friday, both stars shined when it mattered most Saturday. Campbell won gold in the Class 3A girls’ 100 and 200 meters once again, while Bahn took the 100 and 300 hurdles as well as the high jump.

Campbell, one of the top girls’ sprinters in the country, broke her own district records in both sprint events. She broke away from the pack easily and finished the 100 in 11.55 seconds, with second place lagging behind at 12.09. And Campbell’s 23.24-second 200 was a full 1.32 seconds clear of anybody else.

Bahn, after sweeping all four of her events at the York-Adams League meet May 10, added three more golds Saturday. She had won two events by late morning, with her 5-foot-5 mark in the high jump being one inch clear of the field and a 14.48 in the 100 hurdles just enough to edge past Susquehannock’s Ryleigh Marks, the top seed who followed with a 14.52. Dover’s Gemma Galligani finished third in 14.93.

Bahn added the 300 hurdles title in the early afternoon, crossing the line in 14.67 to hold off Bishop McDevitt’s Maddy Brooks (14.81). And the freshman added a seventh-place finish in the 800 meters, securing a state berth in all four events.

Spring Grove's Laila Campbell at the 2023 YAIAA Track and Field Championship in Springettsbury on Wednesday. May 10, 2023.

Six other York-Adams standouts combined for seven more gold medals Friday and Saturday, with Christian School of York’s Luka Schroeter adding another one to the county tally. With medalist performances this weekend, a lengthy list of local athletes advanced to next week’s state meet, also at Shippensburg.

Sublime sub-9: Susquehannock’s Matthew O’Brien wasn’t just hoping for gold in the 3A boys’ 3,200, and he wasn’t just hoping to break the district record of 9:06. O’Brien smashed the record and took gold in emphatic fashion with an 8:59.42 on Friday evening, pulling away to finish 11 seconds clear of Lampeter-Strasburg’s Colin Whitaker.

O’Brien, who captured the district cross country title in the fall, also finished sixth in the 1,600 and 16th in the 800.

South Western's Bernard Bell against Red Lion during their track and field meet in Red Lion on Thursday, Apr. 20, 2023.

Hurdles cleared: South Western’s Bernard Bell, last year’s 3A boys silver medalist in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, took home golds in both events this time around. He blistered past the field with a 14.13 in the 100 hurdles, where he was the top seed. And he blew away his seed time to win the 300 hurdles in 37.69, nearly a second clear of West York’s Perry Addey. 

Bell also took sixth in the long jump with a mark of 20 fee, 8.25 inches, and he helped South Western’s 4x400 relay team finish fifth. The Shippensburg signee will be back at his future home track next weekend looking to improve on his seventh- and eighth-place showings at last year’s state meet.

Leaving a mark: Ryleigh Marks’ Saturday got off to a disappointing start, as the Susquehannock senior finished second to Bahn in the 100 hurdles for the second straight meet. But the Shippensburg pledge came away with gold anyway, posting an 18-foot long jump to beat a field in which she was seeded sixth. Marks also finished eighth in the 300 hurdles (46.51) to make states.

Susquehannock's Ryleigh Marks competing in the Ray Geesey Invitational at York College in York on Friday, Apr. 28, 2023.

Soaring Eagles: Bermudian Springs’ Alison Watts and Lilyana Carlson entered this weekend looking to defend their 2A girls’ district titles in the high jump and pole vault, respectively. Watts had the first crack Friday and completed her repeat, clearing 5 feet and claiming gold over Delone Catholic’s Fina Mochi and Susquenita’s Alize Reyes due to missing fewer overall jumps. Carlson, meanwhile, broke the district record with a 12-foot pole vault but dropped a tiebreaker to Trinity’s Adeline Woodward and settled for a hard-luck silver.

Carlson will have multiple chances at a state medal after also placing third in both the 100 and 300 hurdles Saturday. Watts added second-place finishes in both the long jump and triple jump, with only Susquenita’s Samantha Wechsler getting in the way of a triple gold.

Spartan surge: Matthew Arnold became the second boys’ district champion in York Tech history on Saturday, as his 168-foot, 4-inch throw in the discus landed more than 7 feet clear of his next-best competitor. Arnold, who finished eighth at last year’s district meet with a throw of less than 140 feet, put an exclamation point on his brilliant season with the win.

The Spartan boys’ previous district champion was Ronald Henderson in the triple jump in 2013.

Leap of faith: Luka Schroeter finished school in Germany at age 16 and transferred to Christian School of York as a foreign exchange student in 2021 with the goal of improving his English. He didn’t try out for the track and field team until this year. And he captured district gold Friday in the 2A boys’ long jump with a mark of 21 feet, 3.5 inches. 

The senior will return to Germany after the school year, but he’ll go back home with some unexpected hardware.

Sprinting to states: A trio of York-Adams football standouts finished second, third and fourth in the 3A boys’ 200 meters Saturday. Red Lion's LaDainian Strausbaugh took silver with a time of 21.92, followed by West York's Nico Wright-Phillips (21.92) and Dallastown's Kenny Johnson (22.16). Nobody caught Susquehanna Township’s Lex Cyrus (21.64), but all three advanced to states with room to spare.

Red Lion's LaDianian Strausbaugh against South Western during their track and field meet in Red Lion on Thursday, Apr. 20, 2023.

Strausbaugh added a sixth-place showing in the 100 meters, while Wright-Phillips just missed the finals and finished 11th. Cyrus won that race, too, with a 10.45, breaking the 1979 record of current York High athletic director Jeff White, who ran a 10.54 for Reading back then.


Campbell and Bahn led Spring Grove’s girls to a second-place team finish in 3A with 52 points, just behind J.P. McCaskey’s 58. York-Adams champion Dallastown finished 12th, with Susquehannock 13th.

South Western’s boys placed third in Class 3A with a total of 42 points. Chambersburg cruised to the title with 57 points, followed by Cumberland Valley’s 45. Dallastown tied for 12th, West York placed 14th and Susquehannock came home 20th.

Bermudian Springs finished fifth at the 2A girls’ meet with 63 points. Annville-Cleona won the team title with 104.5. Delone Catholic was 13th and Littlestown was 14th. Biglerville and Delone Catholic placed 12th and 13th, respectively, among 2A boys’ teams.