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Parks wins 1600 state title to cap off stellar freshman year

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Taryn Parks had huge expectations as she entered her freshman year at Greencastle-Antrim High School.

And now that her rookie campaign has come to an end, it’s safe to say she has exceeded them all.

But after her stellar freshman year on the cross country course and the track, Parks now has the challenge to defend not only her PIAA cross country title – but also the state championship in the girls Class 3A 1600, which she won handily Saturday in the PIAA track & field championships at Seth Grove Stadium.

Parks lost to rival freshman Marlee Starliper in the Mid Penn Championships and the District 3 meet, which proved to be motivation heading into the PIAA championships as the third seed with a time of 4:55.64.

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After a trial time of 4:59.31, Parks entered the final Saturday knowing she needed to run one of her best times of the season with Starliper and Katie Dammer of Abington Heights on her tail.

“I really wanted to win coming off of those two races,” Parks said. “I knew that every race I was getting closer to Marlee’s time so I was just trying to stick with her as long as I could.”

Parks remained steady in the top three with Starliper and Dammer before making her move in the final lap. She kicked in front of Dammer in the last 200 meters to claim the win in 4:45.81 – a PR and school record by nearly 10 seconds.

“We were throwing some elbows at the 200 mark so I was scared (Dammer) was going to stay with me,” Parks said. “I couldn’t tell where she was at the 100 so I just went into a dead-out sprint to the finish, and I was just so relieved to cross the finish line.”

Now, Parks looks to the future and hopes to defend her two PIAA titles for the next three years.

“It’s unbelievable,” Parks said. “I could not be any more grateful. I was suffering a little bit of self-doubt after these last few races, but I think that just motivated me for a great race today. Hopefully I get to keep these titles for the next three years.”