After a record-setting season last year, State College will be looking for more big performances this season.
The Little Lion boys broke a number of records over the course of the indoor and outdoor seasons, including in relays.
Many of those record-setters have graduated, but State College is still well-stocked with talent.
Nearly the 400-meter relay team that missed making the PIAA finals by a fraction of a second returns, and there are plenty of other middle-distance runners who can break the 2-minute mark in the 800 meters.
“We will mix a few sprinters and a few distance runners into a 4x400 that should be good as well,” coach Rusty McCrea said. “We also are returning some great individuals at nearly every event area both on the track and in the field events. We are well-rounded but need a few boys to step up.”
Still, it will be tough to replace a group of runners who helped shatter 4x400 and 4x800 relay records that had stood for decades.
“We really lost some amazing athletes last spring, but what I have seen so far is a hunger from the younger boys to have their turn doing some big things,” McCrea said. “I am a big believer in ‘Success building success.’ I think that we will see some of the younger boys do great things in continuing to move this program in a positive direction. I am really encouraged by the quality of young person that I am seeing in our program so far, and know that good character produced good results both on the track and later on in life. ”
The Lady Little Lions also lost a number of key contributors from last season’s team, but also have a deep and talented roster that expects to have a number of qualifiers for the state championship meet. State College had 11 qualifiers for the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association state meet last season.
“We have a strong group of young women who are dedicated to achieving their best,” coach Jennifer Evans said. “Our leadership comes from our veterans — seniors, juniors, and sophomores — in every event area. Many of our freshman have already experienced high-quality competition and racing situations through the fall cross country season. The coaching staff is preparing our athletes to peak at the end of February in hopes to make the cut to compete at the PTFCA state indoor championships held on March 1 at the PSU Multi-Sport Building.”
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy is seeking its first qualifiers for the state indoor meet, having alraedy sent runners to the PIAA outdoor championships in May and to the state cross country meet in November.
“We are looking to get our first state qualifiers to the PTFCA Indoor Track and Field Championship,” coach Jayson Jackson said. “We will be looking for Brian Hackman, Eli Urban and Michael Peters to lead the way on the track and for Sam DeNezza to be our strongman in the field.”
Distance running is a strength for both the boys’ and girls’ teams.
“Our strong nucleus that returns,” Jackson said, “will be aided by several key newcomers to help us reach new heights and be a more balanced team.”