SHIPPENSBURG — Less than 24 hours before he placed fourth in the Class AA 200-meter finals Saturday at the PIAA track and field championships, Clairton senior Vincent Moody left a nearby hospital with a medical conundrum.
Following his run in the preliminary heat Friday, Moody began to hyperventilate. He expected the heavy breathing and the overall sense of weakness to pass. But nothing changed, even after he visited the ambulance at Seth Grove Stadium to breathe with an oxygen mask.
Details after that point were fuzzy because Moody blacked out, he said.
His condition improved Friday night. But because the cause of his health scare remained unclear, Moody’s coach, Eddie McCorvey, and others suggested he skip the 200 semifinals and finals Saturday. McCorvey had accompanied Moody in the ambulance ride to the hospital.
“I said, ‘Coach, there’s no way I can’t run,’ ” Moody said. “‘It’s my last high school race. I had to do it.’ ”
Moody, who entered the PIAA championships with the top 200 time, advanced through the semifinals and finished the final in 22.93 seconds.
“Most people didn’t think I was running (Saturday),” he said. “(McCorvey) was so scared about my safety. … He was probably still nervous when I was running out there.
“I wasn’t nervous at all. I was just thinking it’s a blessing to be here. I thank God for the opportunity. Most people don’t even make it this far.”
Elizabeth Forward junior Matt Bernadowski also considered himself fortunate, albeit for a different reason.
Bernadowski placed third in the Class AAA 110 hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles. The 14.29 he ran in the 110s broke the school record that he already owned.
Not bad for a guy who ran a 15.2 in his first 110 race and questioned whether he wanted to compete this spring.
“After that 15.2, I saw that everyone was running 14s, and I was like, ‘I’m done,’ ” Bernadowski said. “I wasn’t even going to do track. I quit for a week. I was real upset over my times. But I talked to my mom about college and everything, and I got real serious about it, so I started working harder.”
Norwin sophomore Kelsey Plecenik, the WPIAL pole vault champion, placed sixth in the PIAA Class AAA competition by scaling 11 feet, 6 inches. She was one of five WPIAL vaulters in the state’s top eight.
“I’m a young competitor, and I knew I was an underdog,” Plecenik said. “I have two more years to try to improve. That was my main goal, to get here and place somewhere. That’s what I got, so I’m happy.”
Other local medalists include Woodland Hills senior Desiree Garland (fifth in the Class AAA 400) and Elizabeth Forward senior Samantha Merz (eighth in Class AAA discus).
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