How do you top last season’s success for the State College track and field programs?
The boys left Shippensburg University with a state championship, while the girls finished as the runner-up. Both teams brought home loads of individuals medals — including several gold — and broke a few records along the way too.
For the boys, medals were earned in sprints and distances, jumps, relays and pole vaulting. And every one of those results were necessary, edging Downingtown West by one point in the final team standings.
“It’s hard to imagine being able to top last year,” coach Steve Shisler said. “Winning State High’s first boys’ track and field team championship ever, by one point, in the final event of the day, can’t be topped.”
While quite a few of the top finishers have graduated and are competing for college programs this spring, the programs’ usual depth figures to have them ready for the state’s best when May rolls around.
State College may have the top track and field programs in the area, but there are quite a few other athletes who figure to snare some attention and accolades this season.
A look at the area’s teams:
Bald Eagle Area
Bald Eagle Area will have more competitors this season than last, but in some ways it still will be like the program is starting over.
Both the boys’ and girls’ squads have a big crowd of newcomers who are giving track and field a try for the first time. It means there will be plenty of depth and Eagle competitors, but it also means it may take a while for some to find the event to which they are best suited.
“With over half of the team being first year athletes, we will be counting on our letterwinners for leadership and experience,” BEA coach Jeff Jodon said. “We will be trying to find the best events for our new athletes. This is a big rebuilding season. This could be an exciting year of track and field at BEA.”
Last season was a rarity for the Eagles with no district champions or qualifiers to the state meet, but with a number of strong athletes among the underclassmen, there is potential on the rosters.
Numbers and depth are major issues for Bellefonte for both teams heading into this spring, with some events possibly only having one or two Red Raiders competing.
The Lady Raiders suffered some big losses with a number of major point-earners graduating and heading off to compete for college programs.
“Low numbers are a concern for the program, but the student-athletes we have as part of the program know the expectations,” coach Seth Miller said.
Among the key athletes Miller is hoping to see earn points on the boys’ side are Zach Fitzgerald and Andrew Sharp in sprints; Cole Hovis, Michael Fratangelo, Mitchell Pensak and Brett Pope in middle and long distances; Spencer Massie in hurdles and Moryelle Fernandez in jumps; Nate Wert and AJ Hovis in pole vaulting; and throwers James Boland, Noah Gaus, Max Kroell, Luke Lambert and Andrew Davidson.
The throws figure to be strong this spring, but the sprinters, among other areas, may need a little work for the Raider boys.
After winning the title at the Mountain League Championship Meet last spring, the Lady Raiders have to reload. With just six freshmen joining the ranks, reloading for the future may be a little more difficult.
The girls show their greatest strength in the hurdles, jumps and distance runs. Key people in those areas include Samantha McCarthy, Katey Morgante and Amber Shirey in middle and long distances; Andrea Linn, Amelia Walker, Maya O’Shea and Katherine Uchneat in hurdles and Summer Shirey, Chelsea Robson and Elisa Shadow in jumps.
Leading the sprinters is Carolyn Seibel, leading the throwers are Madison Marucci and Morgan Young, and leading the pole-vaulters are Aubrey Kuhn and Kelsie Richner.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the dynamic of the team unfold and see how we respond to competing against programs with larger rosters,” Miller said.
Fresh off an undefeated season in the Mountain League, and a fifth-place finish at the District 6 championships, the Penns Valley girls are hoping to duplicate that success again this season. However, a number of major losses will make that challenging.
The team returns only one healthy member of its 400-meter relay team that finished sixth at the PIAA championships, with state 200-meter medalist Destiny Andrus and Val Hosterman graduated and Maci Ilgen was sidelined with a knee injury suffered late in the basketball season.
Marissa Stecko returns from that relay unit, and PIAA 400-meter dash qualifier Isabella Culver also returns.
“We have a lot of talent returning from last year,” coach Kendyl Paolini said. “There is also a lot of new talent coming up from junior high.”
Sheri Bowersox joins Culver and Stecko in the sprints, while the distance crew has a lot of depth with Maddie Bair, Catherine Bierlein, Becca Bierly, Olivia Krum, Kassidy Powell, Karly Smith and Alexis Witherite. Sydney Reigel and Saige Corl lead the hurdlers, while the top jumpers include Lexi Culver, Peyton Homan, Kelsey Sweitzer and Paige Kubalak. The team also has a lot of depth in the throws with Amanda DeGarmo, Millena Dorman, Aliyah Fetterolf, Maddie Fye, Morgan Kerstetter, Olivia VanAmburg and Trinity Witmer.
“Our team has really meshed well early in the season, and I look forward to seeing how far they can go,” Paolini said. “I can’t wait to see the district and state qualifiers this team will have.”
The boys’ side didn’t have any state qualifiers for track, but as usual the distance group will be a major strength with the help of the Rams who delivered a District 6 cross country title in the fall. Chris Colwell and Mark Bierly, who were 1-2 at the district cross country meet, lead the way with Sammy Gray and Haden Stamm also running on that team. Alex Boeckel and Michael Statham join the distance crew.
The Rams also show depth in the throws with Takoda Bubb, Mark Leiby, Jacob Hockenberry, Ryan Long and Christian Rudolph. Other key athletes include Sam Goodwin and Jeremiah Manning in sprints, Braden Stodart and Jared Hurd in hurdles, Nic Kubalak and Ryan Kensinger in jumps and Colton Wenrick and Taran Rowles in the pole vault.
“We need to get our sprinters and jumpers settled,” Paolini said. “There is a lot of talent, we just need to put the athletes in the right events.”
Paolini is already anticipating another highly competitive year for both Rams teams.
“I look forward to the athletes meeting new personal bests,” she said, “as well as qualifying for the district meet and hopefully the state meet.”
Jason McKenzie takes over the program this spring from Roy Warlow, who remains on the staff as an assistant coach, and he inherits rosters that have good numbers but not a lot of experience.
“We have a young team, with a lot of students competing in track for the first time,” McKenzie said. “There will be a bit of a learning curve for some of the students, but they are willing to put in the time and the work to be successful.”
The boys lost four of the five athletes who competed at the PIAA championships last spring. The lone returnee, from the 3,200-meter relay team, is Matt Shimmel.
Shimmel leads a group of distance runners who give the team a little depth along with Will Harkins and Cole Hoover. The team also has experience in the jumps with Dane Soltys and Kaleb Richardson, and in the throws with Jake Smith, Micah Sidorick and Reece Yarger.
Other key athletes in events include Chase Chapman in the pole vault, Josh Rea in the hurdles and sprinters Michael Durlin, Justin Hale and Nate Twoey.
“Our runners, both sprinters and distance, are young, but they are willing to work hard in order to be successful,” McKenzie said.
The Lady Mounties also have experience in the jumps and throws. Aneesa Karimushan and Ashley Smith lead the jumpers, while there is plenty of depth for the throwers with Julia Burns, Jordan Day, Mackenzie Podliski, Kristin Butterworth and Lacey Potter.
Other key athletes include Karimushan in the pole vault and sprints; Megan Kosut in hurdles; sprinters Sydney Holt, Rachel Burger and Kyra James; and middle- and long-distance runners Samantha Bainey, Jenna Hoover, Lexi Hahn and Lindsey Bordas.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the athletes improve throughout the season,” McKenzie said.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy
The Wolves programs had an exciting spring of 2016, sending two relay teams and three individual athletes to the PIAA championships, and several of those athletes return for this season. The Lady Wolves also are bolstered by members of their PIAA cross country championship team.
That group is led by PIAA cross country state champ Sera Mazza, a qualifier in the state 1,600-meter run last spring. Kate Ott and Lindsey Carmack joined Mazza in running the 3,200-meter relay last spring and were part of the cross country title team along with Julia Cusatis, Grace Cousins, Addie Ebbs, Maggie Urban and Myah Chappell. They all help drive the middle- and long-distance group along with Jordan Dawson.
Even with such a strength of the team, the Lady Wolves also have depth in a number of other areas with sprinters Mary Elliott, Monica Surovec, Adda Fegley, Veronica Emigh and Ana Legaspi; hurdlers Shannon Brawley, Shannon Saclyn and Sarah Watkins; jumpers Watkins, Elliott, Fegley and Legaspi; and throwers Teaghan Prospero and Abby Bulick.
“This will be the most balanced team we have ever fielded,” coach Jayson Jackson said.
The boys return half of their 3,200-meter relay qualifying team in Michael Peters and Kaelan Wright, and also have solid depth for middle and long distances. Joining that group are Max Wortman, Carter Kauffman, Isaac Hyman, Garrett Gall and Leo Bomboy.
Also returning this season after competing at the PIAA meet in the triple jump is Lance Hamilton. Joining him in the jumps and sprints will be Nick DeCarmine and Zach Aronson. Theo Spychalski also will be running in the sprints and competing in the throws.
“We are looking to continue to build upon our indoor season and take the next steps towards our goals,” Jackson said.
The best track and field programs in the state were in State College last spring, so now the challenge is repeating that success but with many new competitors.
“Every season is different,” girls’ coach Jenn Evans said. “We need to commit to training the whole athlete, focusing on positive academic and athletic performance and training to meet our team and personal goals to reach success.”
Evans’ team finished second at the PIAA meet last spring and earned five medals at the indoor state championships in early March. That already has the team set with a good base for this spring.
As always, the team also has tremendous depth across almost every event. Key girls in the sprints include 2016 PIAA competitors Taylor Givens and Zoe Wicks along with Jessica Lose, Erica Feese, Natalie Stewart and Ava Michael. The longer-distance group includes Michael, Wicks, Sophie Bollinger, Catherine Curtin, Elly Haushalter, Julia Neely, Jordi Rohrbach, Esther Seeland, Addy Hardy and Kileigh Kane. The long-distance group includes Curtin, Emma Simon, Elly Haushalter, Cailin Saylor, Gabbi Bock, Haley Garvin and Megan Petrine. Curtin, Simon and Neely also competed last May in Shippensburg.
Rohrbach also was a PIAA qualifier in the 300-meter hurdles and will be joined in hurdles events by Liana Craig, Gracie Myers and Rachael Spencer. Givens was a PIAA qualifier in the long jump as well and is joined in jumping events by Ellen Maple, Noelia Pagano, Rachael Spencer, Hannah Yoder, Kileigh Kane and Kassidy Kane.
Jordan Bair, who made PIAAs in both shot put and discus, leads a deep group that also includes Ellie Strauss, Esther Seeland, Taylor Love and Denaya Poston. Lyndsey Reed also made the state meet as a pole vaulter and will have event teammates in Lily Plute and Jenna Kokoskie.
“The fun of coaching is in trying to motivate and inspire this year’s team to strive to be the best they can for 2017,” Evans said. “Work hard, compete hard, and that’s all we ever ask.”
The boys’ team had an incredible season, finding success not only at the PIAA meet but also at the Penn Relays and New Balance Nationals, including registering one of the nation’s top times in the 3,200-meter relay. Half of that relay team returns in Owen Wing and Nick Feffer.
Other top runners in the middle- and long-distance events include Thomas Branstetter, Chris Di Perna, Mitchell Etter, Joey Feffer, Sam Horn, Owen Isham, Joe Messner and David Wong.
Noah Woods made the PIAA field in the 400-meter dash last season and leads the sprinters along with Terrell Ealy, Max Herbst, Tristen Lyons, Ben Oesterling, Tanner Reed, Dennis Rohan, Cohen Russell and Ben Vidunas.
The Little Lions also have depth with Pat Holoviak and Chase Longenecker in the hurdles, Stan Hamilton in both the jumps and hurdles, Brandon Clark and Jake Hefkin in the jumps, Luke Knipe and Pat Osborne in the pole vault and Jereme Thompson and Titus Thompson in the throws.
“There is no doubt the success of performing and excelling at the highest level last May has had a positive impact on them continuing to work hard this year,” Shisler said. “For the underclass group, they got to see first hand what it takes to achieve big things on the big stage, and they have seemed to embrace modeling that work ethic this year.”
Bald Eagle Area
Head coach: Jeff Jodon (28th season)
Last season: Boys 1-6; Girls 1-6
Assistant coaches: Ron Hoover, Vicki Coffey, Kristian McCarty, Ernest Greene, Damon Lucas
Key losses: Sarah Van Cise, Alyssa Ward, Virginia Hillman, Emily Jozefick
Returning letterwinners: Lexi Turner, Abigal Fisher, Emma Thompson, Adazia Mellott, Heather Huyett, Kaliegh Cunningham, Annie Barnhart, Brooke Hall
Key newcomers: Madelyn Bailey, Miranda Ballock, Alexis Bucha, Morgan Chambers, Sophia Dimittratos, McKenzi Etters, Zoey McHenry, Shania Moore, Paige Murgas, Natalie Nyman, Alyssa Packer, Zayda Phillips, Addison Proctor ,Lindsey Reynolds, Ashton Robinson, Elissa Russell, Emily Shiels, Sierra Surovec, Caitlin Taylor, Vanessa Walk, Katelyn Wible, Miranda Yeage
Key losses: Mike Kachik, Evan Kilmer, Chris Dunklebager, Jake Koleno, Josh Fye
Returning letterwinners: Eli Myers, Austin Klinger, Jake Michael, Logan Fetzer, Mike Salvanish, Gavin Schnarrs, Luke Holler, Dylan Harvey, Noah Hockenberry, Austin Huyett, Dylan Kibe, Shane Stimer, Judah Eveleth, Anton Fatula, Ernest Greene, Nick Ishler, Jakob Ream, Richard Taylor, Nick Turner, Nick Zink, Caleb Spackman,
Key newcomers: Asher Burkett, Kiefer Charnick, Hunter Dumond-Hatton, Tim Durachko, Seth Foster, Donald Habovick, Derek Henry, Nathan Hoover, Leo Johonson, Drew Koleno, Nicholas McClellan, Gage McClenahan, Tomek Muhr, Dylan Roberts, Peter Van Cise, Luke Wilson, Liam Yeager, Ben Yetskoason.
Head coach: Seth Miller (ninth season)
Last season: Boys 4-7, 3-4 Mountain League; Girls 7-4, 6-1 Mountain League, Mountain League Meet champions
Assistant coaches: Bob Bloom, Bob Chandler, Chris Freidhoff, Randy Kochik, Chris Mitchell, Dave Schaub
Key losses: Jessica Book, Morgan Brooks, Madeline Durn, Anya Hoaglund, Erin Lemons, Madisen Paige, Olivia Spratt
Returning letterwinners: Aubrey Kuhn, Andrea Linn, Madison Marucci, Samantha McCarthy, Katey Morgante, Kelsie Richner, Carolyn Seibel, Summer Shirey, Amelia Walker
Key newcomers: Maya O’Shea, Chelsea Robson, Elisa Shadow, Amber Shirey, Katherine Uchneat, Morgan Young
Key losses: Dion Furfaro, Patrick Johnsonbaugh, Finn Nixdorf, Michael O’Donnell, Bryce Steiner
Returning letterwinners: James Boland, Moryelle Fernandez, Zachary Fitzgerald, Michael Fratangelo, Noah Gaus, Cole Hovis, Spencer Massie, Mitchell Pensak, Brett Pope, Andrew Sharp, Nate Wert
Key newcomers: Owen Christopher, Tyler Cooke, Logan VonGunden
Head coach: Kendyl Paolini (second season)
Last season: Boys 5-2; Girls 7-0, Mountain League champions
Assistant coaches: Drew Welch, JD Kubalak, Jessica Ranck
Key losses: Destiny Andrus, Valarie Hosterman, Naomi Olsen-Zelman, Cassidy Corl, Malarie Yoder, Emily Batdorf
Returning letterwinners: Sydney Riegel, Marissa Stecko, Karly Smith, Isaballa Culver, Sheri Bowersox, Rebecca Bierly, Paige Kubalak, Maci Ilgen, Kelsey Sweitzer, Peyton Homan.
Key newcomers: Karlee Bierly, Brooke Emel, Kenzia Lingle, Samantha Ticknor, Laurel Fogelman, Olivia Swartz, Grace Bressler, Quinn Wayland.
Key losses: Keith Griffith, Burton Peese, Ethan Stroup, and Brandon Witmer
Returning letterwinners: Braden Stodart, Sammy Gray, Sam Goodwin, Jared Hurd, Chris Colwell, Mark Bierly, Ryan Kensinger, Colton Wenrick.
Key newcomers: Darren Freed, Hunter Rossman, Tim Breon, Garrett Fleck, Trevor Fleck, Jonis Haines, Dylan Homan, Brennan Hyde, Kyle Lucas, Blaine Ripka, Noah Evans, Marcus Woodford, Conlan Burd, AJ Dorman, William Tucker.
Head coach: Jason McKenzie (first season)
Last season: Boys 6-5; Girls 6-5
Assistant coaches: Renee Lanager, Roy Warlow, Olivia Sealy
Key losses: Kylie Whitehead, Celena Garcia, Kristen Bennett, Ryann Knowles, Sarah Bainey
Returning letterwinners: Kristin Butterworth, Jordan Day, Aneesa Karimushan, Mackenzie Podliski, Kyra James, Julia Burns
Key newcomers: Samantha Bainey, Megan Kosut, Jenna Hoover, Lexi Hahn, Sydney Holt, Lindsey Bordas, Rachel Burger
Key losses: Nick Patrick, Kyle Albert, Michael Shimmel, Payton Moore
Returning letterwinners: Zach Myers, Matthew Shimmel, Micah Sidorick, Jacob Smith, Dane Soltys
Key newcomers: Nate Twoey, Justin Hale, Will Harkins, Cole Hoover, Michael Durlin, Josh Rea, Jimmy Bryan, Chase Chapman, Skyler Rebo
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy
Head coach: Jayson Jackson (sixth season)
Assistant coaches: Matt Groves, Sarah Wygant, Jason Lunn
Key losses: Lucia Person, Jordan Wiser, Asara Clark
Returning letterwinners: Grace Cousins, Kate Ott, Sera Mazza, Lindsey Carmack, Julia Cusatis, Sarah Watkins, Mary Elliott, Monica Surovec
Key newcomers: Addie Ebbs, Adda Fegley, Veronica Emigh, Shannon Saclyn, Shannon Brawley, Abby Bulick, Ana Legaspi, Myah Chappell, Teaghan Prosperous
Key losses: Eli Urban
Returning letterwinners: Michael Peters, Lance Hamilton, Kaelan Wright, Max Wortman, Theo Spychalski
Key newcomers: Zach DeCarmine, Leo Bomboy, Carter Kauffman, Garrett Gall, Zach Aronson, Isaac Hyman
Head coach: Boys — Steve Shisler (second season); Girls — Jenn Evans (12th season)
Last season: Boys 7-0, Mid Penn Conference champions, District 6 champions, PIAA Class AAA champions; Girls 7-0, District 6 champions, PIAA Class AAA second place
Assistant coaches: Rebecca Donaghue, Artie Gilkes, Tom Kleban, Joe Sarra, Matt Seeland, Chris Cipro, Tom Kleban, Nick Kello, Will Cather
Key losses: Sarah, Almarzooqi, Haley Crawford, Natasha Fedkina, Jackie Horner, Veronika Karpenko, Kinsey Thompson, Rachel Wylie
Returning letterwinners: Jordan Bair, Sophie Bollinger, Liana Craig, Catherine Curtin, Erica Feese, Haley Garvin, Taylor Givens, Addy Hardy, Kassidy Kane, Kileigh Kane, Jenna Kokoskie, Taylor Love, Ellen Maple, Emma Maras, Julia Neely, Noelia Pagano, Britney Peachey, Megan Petrine, Lily Plute, Denaya Poston, Lyndsey Reed, Jordi Rohrbach, Cailin Saylor, Esther Seeland, Emma Simon, Ellie Strauss, Zoe Wicks, and Hannah Yoder.
Key newcomers: Gabbi Bock, Elly Haushalter, Jessica Lose, Ava Michael, Gracie Myers, Rachael Spencer, Natalie Stewart
Key losses: Matt Balogh, Tristan Daman, Tony Degleris, Phil Ealy, Erik Ebel, Lucas Gray, Craig Hilliard, Andrew Miller, Alex Milligan, Malik Patterson, Noah Oesterling, Hunter Schrock, Doug Swoboda, Griffin Thompson, Kellin Valentine, Mark Weakland
Returning letterwinners: Brandon Clark, Chris Di Perna, Joey Feffer, Nick Feffer, Stan Hamilton, Jake Hefkin, Max Herbst, Pat Holoviak, Owen Isham, Chase Longenecker, Matt Russell, Titus Thompson, Owen Wing
Key newcomers: Mitchell Etter, Steven Etter, Keaton Ellis, Ben Oesterling, Cohen Russell, Ben St. Pierre