SHIPPENSBURG — Punxsy senior Milea Schall couldn't avoid keeping an eye on the clock during the final lap of the 3,200-meter run at the PIAA Track and Field Championships Saturday morning in Shippensburg.
Since she was near the back of the pack in the 25-girl race, Schall didn't have thoughts of a medal in her mind.
She was in search of the school record.
"The plan was not to look at the clock, but I couldn't help it," Schall said. "I knew the first mile was pretty fast, so I thought I was going to make it. I was just pushing hard."
As she made the final turn, Schall had plenty of time to spare, and once she crossed the finish line in 11:25.02, she broke the school record set by Kelsey Acre in 2008 by more than 11 seconds.
It was no secret that Schall's goal at states was to set the record. But entering the season, all she had in mind was making it to states and going from there.
"I figured I could probably make it, but I didn't want to hope for something I couldn't get," said Schall, citing her thoughts entering the season. "There was kind of a little bit of doubt. I just had a feeling if I worked hard enough, I could probably break it."
May 19 in Brookville, Schall dominated the field at the District IX Class AAA Championships. She won in 11:43.54, or 37 seconds better than the second-place finisher, and also had the reminder that she ran a sub-11:40 earlier in the season in the back of her mind.
Not only did Schall reach states for the first time, but she knew she had enough left in the tank to break Acre's record, which was 11:36.31.
"Districts was a difficult situation being that far ahead," Schall said. "I was trying to push for a PR, but I think just not havng the competition (didn't help). I definitely had some left."
She proved it Saturday, as her first mile was 5:31, which was equal to her best time ever for the 1,600 by itself, Punxsy coach George Wehrle said. She then ran the final 1,600 meters in 5:54 on top of that to snap the record.
Saturday's run was a 14-second improvement on her personal best, and her time of 11:25 was 33 seconds faster than what she ran as a junior.
"She ran as good as I think she could have," Wehrle said. "It means a lot for her to improve as much as she did as a senior and to finish her career as about as high as she could. Fourteen seconds better at the state meet isn't easy to do."
Punxsy head coach Barry Young said the most important thing Schall could have done was set a goal for herself and go after it.
"She went down there with a purpose, and she came home with her goal," Young said. "I knew she could, but I didn't know if she would. The best competitors in the state gave her an opportunity to do it."
Having runners to chase was helpful and bridged the gap between her 11:43 at districts and 11:25 at states.
"All this season, I've been wishing for someone to push me just to see how I could do," Schall said. "It was nice to have a whole bunch of people to catch."
Schall, who is Clarion University-bound to run on the cross country and track and field teams, finished 20th overall. But placement didn't completely matter at this particular meet — only her time.
"It was a great result for her," Wehrle said. "It's not like Milea ever does cartwheels, but she was happy with her effort."
Schall, a top-three honors student, who will graduate tonight at Jack LaMarca Memorial Stadium with the rest of PAHS' Class of 2011, will soon have her name on the record board as teammates, family and friends enter the stadium.
"It's really nice — the satisfaction of accomplishing what I wanted to," Schall said. "It's just really neat to break the record. I feel like it was a really good way to end my senior year."