High School Sports

PIAA track and field: St. Joseph’s runners blazing new trail for school

St. Joseph’s Brian Hackman qualified for the state meet on Tuesday with a third-place finish in the boys’ 1,600-meter run in Altoona.
St. Joseph’s Brian Hackman qualified for the state meet on Tuesday with a third-place finish in the boys’ 1,600-meter run in Altoona. CDT file photo

The track and field program is just three years old, the school doesn’t even have a running track and three of the four members of the relay team hadn’t even competed in the sport until early this spring.

When the PIAA Championships hit the track Friday morning at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, however, St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy will have its first representatives.

“It’s pretty cool,” sophomore Mikey Kresovich said. “We’ve got the school on our back going to states. We kind of represent what St. Joseph’s means, and we’re going to try to achieve it at states.”

How exciting is it to be trail-blazers for the school and have the chance to compete against the best in the state?

Sophomore Charlie Ross couldn’t get to sleep last Wednesday night after he and three teammates finished third earlier that evening in the 1,600 relay, with a program-record time of 3 minutes, 35.31 seconds, to grab an automatic qualifying spot for the state meet.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Ross said. “Showing our name and just representing our school is really cool. It’s really amazing to show what a little school can do.”

Kresovich and Ross will join Brian Hackman and Kasim Buey, and alternates Eli Urban and Austin Emel, in the Class AA 4x400 relay.

Hackman will actually have the honor of being the school’s first competitor at the state meet when he runs in the 1,600 a few hours earlier Friday.

They will not be the first to compete in a state championship for the school. Hackman and Urban ran at the PIAA cross country meet last fall, and Garrett Bastardi played in the PIAA golf championship.

Those events, however, did not have thousands of spectators in the bleachers and nearly as many competitors surrounding them.

“This will definitely be the biggest venue they’ve played in any sport,” coach Jayson Jackson said. “(You have to) walk into that stadium and not be overwhelmed when you see the stands filled up for a track meet all day long. It’s going to be intense.”

Jackson is familiar with the scene, having coached previously at State College, including helping the 2005 boys’ 4x800 relay team to a third-place finish.

However, with all the festivities and events, possibly the toughest part will be the waiting. The 4x400 relay is the last event of the day — hitting the track sometime around 5 p.m. after the first starting gun sounds at 9 a.m. Aside from Hackman in the 1,600, which will runs around 12:30 p.m., they will have to sit and wait.

“All of us are used to just running all day throughout a meet,” Kresovich said. “Three of us are just doing the relay at the end of the day, so we’re all going to be pretty anxious.”

“It’s going to be really crazy watching all the other kids competing,” Ross said. “We have to wait until what we at the end of the day. It’s going to be real nerve-wracking, but we’ll have to control it.”

But Kresovich also noted they head to Shippensburg with a little bit of a chip on their shoulders. The school is new and small, and they don’t have a track on which to compete or practice. They prepare each day on the school’s grass, the streets surrounding the building in Boalsburg or at a nearby park

“A lot of schools have these fancy tracks and everything,” Ross said. “We get to practice, we’re running on the streets and everything, using our back yard as well, to practice. That’s motivation to do well.”

While Hackman has been running for years, growing up with the State College track program, the others are novices. Buey and Kresovich also play basketball and football, and Ross also plays football. Ross gave track a try just to keep in shape for football. All three of them are first-year students at the school after transferring from Bellefonte.

On Tuesday, they were honored at a school assembly for the whole student body to know who they are. On Friday, they will be the first to sport their school’s blue and red uniforms at the PIAA championships, and a lot more people will know who they are.

“It’s a pretty big accomplishment for us,” Kresovich said, “just how small of a school we are.”