Two new coaches join the Centre County track and field scene as the high school season is set to begin.
Steve Shisler takes over as the head coach of the State College boys’ team, while Kendyl Paolini, who not long ago was a standout athlete at Penns Valley, will lead the Rams’ boys’ and girls’ programs.
While Shisler has been in the business for some time, it’s a new experience for Paolini.
The new Rams’ leader, who played multiple sports at Penns Valley including competing with the track team, was an assistant coach under Lynda Federinko last season.
“At first 70-plus kids was a lot for me to wrap my head around managing,” the 2010 Penns Valley graduate said. “But, I’ve been working with my incredible staff and we’ve gotten a rotation schedule worked out where each athlete gets what they need without confusion or stress.”
It’s a dream to be able to coach the Rams.
“It’s an incredible honor to have been selected to take over my alma mater’s team,” Paolini said. “The track and field teams have a tradition of excellence here at Penns Valley that I’m proud to say I had a small part in building that. It means a lot to me that the administration has put their trust in me to carry on this tradition.”
While last season she got to be more of a friend to some of the athletes as an assistant coach, now that she is the boss she is learning how hard it can be to push the athletes and get the most out of them with their preseason workouts.
“Some of them are workouts I’ve run and I know how challenging they are,” she said. “Watching them work through the workout is hard for me because I know that it hurts, and I know that they’re tired but I also know that it works. For me, it’s going to be a process of toughening up and not feeling bad for them, but rather encouraging them to get through and be better for it. I’ve made strides already this preseason, and hope to continue to improve myself in order to become a better coach for our athletes.”
Paolini is not the only one expecting to see improvement as the spring progresses.
With the season for most programs beginning Tuesday, here is a look at the coming season for Centre County teams:
Bald Eagle Area
BEA has a decent amount of depth this season when the Eagles kick off the new season. Most events figure to have multiple Eagles competing for the potential of team points.
The Eagles have quite a bit of depth in the throws, with Josh Fye, Jake Koleno, Mike Salvanish, Eli Myers and Gavin Schnarrs all returning from last season. The same can be said for the distance crew with Mike Kachik, Austin Klinger, Dylan Kibe, Dylan Harvey and Noah Hockenberry also back from last spring.
The team also has some strength in the hurdles and jumps with Jake Michael, Logan Fetzer and Austin Huyett. Dylan Zink and Luke Holler also will be among the jumpers as well as racing in the sprints. Shane Stimer is among the sprinters and hurdlers.
The jumpers also will get help from pole-vaulters Evan Kilmer and Chris Dunklebarger.
“(With) all the new athletes, we will be trying to find their best events that will help our team,” coach Jeff Jodon said. “We will be counting on our returning letterwinners for leadership with our new people. This could be an exciting year with the blend of the experienced and new athletes. Looking forward to the first meet.”
The Lady Eagles don’t have as much depth as the boys but do show potential in most areas.
The throwing events are typically a strength for BEA, and the team appears to have the most depth there again this season, at least in terms of returning athletes. They are paced by Emma Thompson, Virginia Hillman, Stephanie Bumbarger, Adazia Mellott and Heather Huyett.
Sarah Van Cise is the most versatile of Lady Eagle, competing in sprints, the shot put and pole vault.
Other sprinters include Mariah Veneziano and Morgan Dubbs, with Veneziano also competing in jumps, Lexi Turner in hurdles and jumps and Madelynn Holderman leading the distance runners.
“We will be developing a young team in the early part of the season,” Jodon said. “But we may have a few surprises for the later part of the season.”
With recent success in middle- and long-distance running events, coach Seth Miller thinks that will be the strength of the Red Raiders at the start of the season.
Michael O’Donnell, Brett Pope, Cole Hovis and Michael Fratangelo pace the distance crew, with Hovis making the transition from running the sprints last spring as a freshman.
Bellefonte also shows depth in hurdles, led by Bryce Steiner, who led the team at the District 6 meet last season. Other hurdlers include Finn Nixdorf, Spencer Massie and Ian Lowery. Zachary Fitzgerald, Alec Songer and Andrew Sharp are expected to lead the sprinters early in the year.
In field events, Patrick Johnsonbaugh, the lone senior in the bunch, paces the throwers along with Noah Gaus and James Boland. Jumpers include Steiner, Nate Wert, Hovis and Moryelle Fernandez. Wert is the lone pole-vaulter returning, though Hovis also might work into the competition.
“The team has a nice mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen,” he said. “I’m hoping with the leadership we have on the team our underclassmen will develop into competitors on the team and be willing to help the team out when necessary.”
The Lady Red Raiders have big expectations this season. They finished second in the Mountain League last spring with a 6-1 record, and 80 percent of the point-scorers return from that team.
“(We are) expecting the team to once again be one of the top teams in the league and potentially be battling for a league championship with Clearfield and Penns Valley,” Miller said.
The distance crew leads the way, with all four members of last year’s school-record-setting 3,200-meter relay team returning in Jessica Book, Anya Hoaglund, Madeline Durn and Samantha McCarthy. Erin Lemons joins the group for the distance runs.
Top sprinters include Morgan Brooks, Cassandra Vogel and Madisen Paige, while Olivia Spratt, Amelia Walker and Andrea Linn lead the hurdlers.
Spratt also carries strong expectations after qualifying for the indoor state championships in the high jump. Linn, Paige and Summer Shirey join Spratt in the jumps.
The team also has depth in throwing events with Sadie Woodring, Madison Marucci, Gabbie Pighetti and Danae Taylor, and also in pole-vaulting with Aubrey Kuhn, Kelsie Richner and Maddie Polkinghorn.
The Rams should be buoyed in the distance events by their District 6 champion cross country runners along with a solid core of returning athletes.
Leading the distance runners are Keith Griffith and Chris Colwell.
Sam Goodwin and Takoda Bubb will lead the sprinters, Braden Stodart and Burton Peese pace the hurdlers, while the top jumpers are Ryan Kensinger, Jeremiah Manning and Stephen Gover. Ethan Stroup and Brandon Witmer are the top throwers and Colton Wenrick returns to the pole vault.
The team did lose PIAA qualifiers Gino Nicosia from the 800 and Colin Egelhoff from the throws, but have a number of newcomers for whom they are trying to find the best places.
“We will be looking to improve individually, as well as combine our strengths in order to find success as a team,” Paolini said.
With many athletes back this spring, the Lady Rams will try to defend their Mountain League title.
Among those returning are three-fourths of the 400-meter relay team that made it to the PIAA Championships — Destiny Andrus, Valarie Hosterman and Maci Ilgen. Andrus also was the District 6 200-meter champion and runner-up in the 100, making the state meet in both.
Ilgen and Peyton Homan also will play key roles in the jumps, while the team will be paced by Emily Batdorf in throws, Malarie Yoder and Rebecca Bierly in distance events and Naomi Olsen-Zelman, Sydney Reigel and Saige Corl in the hurdles.
“This team has incredible potential,” Paolini said. “We hope to see an undefeated regular season as well as strong performances through districts and states.”
For both the Mounties’ boys’ and girls’ programs, there is experience with a high number of seniors, but overall the numbers are down, according to coach Roy Warlow.
Among the seniors is versatile Nick Patrick, who competes in distance track events and pole vault. P-O does have depth in distance runs with Michael and Matthew Shimmel and Kyle Albert. Pacing the sprinters are Jovone Bickle and Derek Moore, while Payton Moore and Zach Myers lead the hurdlers. Middle distance events, hurdles and the 1,600-meter relay are among the stronger events for the Mounties.
The team has to replace a big point-earner from last season in the throws in Logan Day, so Curt Shimel is the top returner. Sophomore Dane Soltys will look to give the team points in jumps, an area along with sprints where Warlow is looking for athletes to step up.
Warlow sees a lot of potential in the sprints and field events for the Lady Mounties as the season opener nears. The team shows a lot of depth especially in the throws.
Julia Burns, Makenzie Podliski, Kristen Butterworth, Lacey Potter, Sarah Bainey and freshman Tierra Miller are all expected to have an impact in the throwing events, giving plenty of point potential.
Celena Garcia and Lisa Heginbothom will be key people in both the jumps and the pole vault.
On the track, Ryann Knowles, Kyra James and Jalyn James give the team choices in the sprints, while Kylie Whitehead and Kristen Bennett lead in the distance events and the hurdle events will be led by Aneesa Karimushan, Miller and Olivia Franchock.
“We look to have improvement from top to bottom throughout the season and have some surprises and fun along the way,” Warlow said.
St Joseph’s Catholic Academy
It’s safe to say the St. Joseph’s program, while still in its early stages, is coming off its best season.
The Wolves qualified runners in three events for the PIAA Championships last season, and had their first state medalist in Brian Hackman. The 1,600-meter runner, who was fourth, is now running at St. Francis, but the rest of his state-qualifying 3,200 relay teammates return. That group includes Eli Urban, Charles Ross and Michael Peters, along with alternates Andy Rogan and Max Wortman. Urban also finished 15th in the 3,200 final at PIAAs.
The team continues to grow in numbers in its fifth season. The sprinters will be led by Lance Hamilton, Austin Emel, Jacob Cusatis and Brendan Robinson. Kaelan Wright joins the distance group, and John Paul Romero joins Hamilton in hurdles. Hamilton also will do jumps along with Emel in the pole-vault. The team also has depth in the throws with Noah Peeler, Theo Spychalski, Nathan Gray, Brendan Robinson and Jason Thomas.
“We are a very balanced team and we are looking for major contributions from all event areas,” coach Jayson Jackson said of a team that continues to show progress. “We are looking to continue moving forward and build upon the success we had during the indoor season.”
The Lady Wolves’ lineup and success starts with its distance runners, who helped land the school’s first PIAA title last fall at the cross country championships. The deep and talented group of runners gives the team strong contenders from 800 to 3,200 meters. The distance corps includes Lucia Person, Sera Mazza, Julia Cusatis, Kate Ott, Grace Cousins, Jordan Wiser, Emma Youngmark, Lea Fisher, Jordan Dawson, Lindsey Carmack. Mazza was the District 6 cross country champion.
Pacing the sprinters are Sarah Watkins, Anna Legaspi, Mary Elliot, Jiyoon Kim, Monica Surovec and Greta Miller. Joining Miller in the hurdles are Xabine Stager-Kamats and Sarah Watkins.
Stager-Kamats, Watkins and Legaspi are joined by Mary Elliot in jumps, Bella Bassett and Bella Bevilacqua pace the throwers and Stager-Kamats also works in the pole vault.
“We have our strongest team to date and that’s because each area is operating at a high level and making contributions,” Jackson said. “We had several girls qualify and place at districts last season, so we are looking to take the next step and have them score at states.”
The Little Lions have big expectations for this spring.
There is talent and depth across the board, and it showed with the team finishing second at the state indoor championships in early March. That has the team hopeful it can contend in the Mid Penn Conference and again get past Altoona for a District 6 title.
“The depth and experience of this team will be our strength,” said Shisler, who has been with the State College program since 2011 coaching the distance runners. “The outdoor boys roster is in excess of 120 boys and there is strength in numbers.”
Leading the way are three-fourths of last season’s third-place-finishing 3,200-meter relay team with Tony Degleris, Nick Feffer and Alex Milligan, who set the school record at the PIAA meet. Other top distance runners include Mitchell Etter, Joey Feffer and Owen Wing.
Key people for sprints include Illya Bogdanets, Tristan Daman, Max Herbst, Noah Oesterling, Josh Rickley, Kellin Valentine and Noah Woods. Davis Kelleher, Chase Longenecker, Malik Patterson and Aziz Salamy pace the hurdlers.
Top jumpers include Kyle Behnken, Brandon Clark, Shaquan Graham, Stan Hamilton, Jake Hefkin, Donovan Moses and Valentine. Throwers will be led by Doug Swoboda, Jeremy Thompson, Titus Thompson, Mark Weakland and Erik Ebel, a PIAA qualifier in the javelin.
Two other state meet qualifiers from last spring also return in the pole vault in Griffin Thompson and Lucas Gray. They are joined in the vault by Rob Brandt, Luke Knipe and Nate McMahon.
State College’s standards have gotten pretty high lately. Winning 10 straight District 6 titles, finishing seventh in the state last spring and fourth at the indoor championships earlier in March will do that.
The team also returns most of its top point-earners from the 2015 outdoor season, including state triple jump champion Veronika Karpenko, and nearly all of the other district champions and state meet qualifiers.
Back in the sprints are PIAA competitors Haley Crawford and Taylor Givens along with Zoe Wicks. Among the distance runners are state qualifiers Natasha Fedkina, Sarah Almarzooqi and Julia Neely along with Catherine Curtin, Cailin Saylor, Addy Hardy, Emma Simon and Emma Maras.
Rachel Wylie and Jordi Rohrbach, who made both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles at the state meet, are back, as is shot putter Jordan Bair. Other top throwers include Jackie Horner, Esther Seeland and Ellie Strauss. Joining Karpenko in the jumps are Givens, Ellen Maple, Leann Verica and Hannah Yoder.
Kinsey Thompson and Lyndsey Reed lead the way in the pole vault, replacing graduated state medalist Megan Fry.
“We have strength in every event area and are looking forward to seeing how we develop as the season progresses,” coach Jennifer Evans said.
Bald Eagle Area
Coach: Jeff Jodon (27th season)
Assistant coaches: Ron Hoover, Vicki Coffey, Kristian McCarty, Dan Roberts, Clairen Percival, Damon Lucas
Key losses: Nathan Styles, Gage Hilderbrand, Brandon Hoover, Adam Morgan, Justin Dunklebarger, Shane Kunes, Mitchell McCurdy
Returning letterwinners: Mike Kachik, Evan Kilmer, Josh Fye, Eli Myers, Jake Koleno, Chris Dunklebarger, Austin Klinger, Jake Michael, Logan Fetzer, Mike Salvanish, Gavin Schnarrs, Luke Holler, Dylan Harvey, Noah Hockenberry, Austin Huyett, Dylan Kibe, Shane Stimer, Dylan Zink
Key newcomers: Bradley Crestani, Judah Eveleth, Anton Fatula, Joey Gates, Keith Greene, Nick Ishler, A.J. Markle, Jakob Ream, Caleb Spackman, Nick Turner, Josh Zink, Nick Zink, Richard Taylor, Toby Chencharick
Key losses: Mackenize Basalla, Alyssa Butterworth, Rylee Butler, Maddie Cingle, Haley Furrow, Abigal Gunsallas, Jordan Gill, Angel Kottwitz, Hannah Park, Rexine Schrum, Sunshine Zimmerman, Tiera Ferguson, Paige Zeigler.
Returning letterwinners: Sarah VanCise, Madelynn Holderman, Mariah Veneziano, Lexi Turner, Morgan Dubbs, Emma Thompson, Virginia Hillman, Stephanie Bumbarger, Adazia Mellott, Heather Huyett
Key newcomers: Annie Barnhart, Skylynd Brown, Kaleigh Cunningham, Abigail Fisher, Brooke Hall, Michaela Maynard, Morgan Phillps, Alyssa Ward, Cierra Miller, Lindy Myers, Velanna Skripek, Bri Leason, Samantha Wellar, Emily Jozefick
Head coach: Seth Miller (eighth season)
Last year: Boys 4-5, 3-4 Mountain League; Girls 6-3, 6-1 Mountain League
Assistant coaches: Dave Schaub, Bob Chandler, Randy Kochik, Chris Freidhoff, Bob Bloom, Chris Mitchell, Kim Gasper, Kyle Wintersteen
Key losses: Matt Dabiero, Ethan Diefenbach, Matt Feldman, Josiah Stickles
Returning letterwinners: Zachary Fitzgerald, Noah Gaus, Spencer Massie, Finn Nixdorf, Michael O’Donnell, Bryce Steiner, Nate Wert
Key newcomers: Alec Songer, James Boland, Dylan Houser, Moryelle Fernandez, Max Kroell, Ian Lowery, Andrew Sharp
Key losses: Sara Caldana, Kaity Devore, Brooke Shirey
Returning letterwinners: Jessica Book, Morgan Brooks, Madeline Durn, Anya Hoaglund, Aubrey Kuhn, Erin Lemons, Madison Marucci, Samantha McCarthy, Gabrielle Pighetti, Summer Shirey, Olivia Spratt, Cassandra Vogel, Amelia Walker, Sadie Woodring
Key newcomers: Madisen Paige, Danae Taylor, Katheryn Morgante, Maddie Polkinghorn, Carolyn Seibel
Head coach: Kendyl Paolini (first season)
Last year: Boys 6-1; Girls 7-0, Mountain League champions
Assistant coaches: Drew Welch, Sal Nicosia and J.D. Kubalak
Key losses: Isaac Duvall, Ryan Reigel, Adam Mothersbaugh, Nick Fuller, Gino Nicosia, Dan Kozar, Tiger Welch, Collin Egelhoff.
Returning letterwinners: Keith Griffith, Ethan Stroup, Stephen Gover, Taran Rowles, Colton Wenrick, Braden Stodart, Ryan Kensinger, Mark Bierly, Sam Goodwin.
Key newcomers: Alex Gretok, Matthew Manning, Branston Peese, Rudy Wheat, Jared Hurd, Chris Colwell, Max Engle, Jacob Hockenberry, Ryan Long, Brent Fegley.
Key losses: Kayla Bracken, Haley Brown, Jordan Brown, Marissa Hettinger, Natalie Hoffman, Valarie Kubalak, Alyssa Limbaugh, Kylie Orndorff, Makenzie Wenrick.
Returning letterwinners: Destiny Andrus, Valarie Hosterman, Naomi Olsen-Zelman, Malarie Yoder, Rebecca Bierly, Maci Ilgen, Kelsey Sweitzer, Peyton Homan, Sydney Reigel.
Key newcomers: Marissa Stecko, Paige Kubalak, Isabella Culver, Alexa Culver, Aliyah Fetterolf, Morgan Kerstetter, Adda Fegley.
Head coach: Roy Warlow (third season)
Last year: Girls 4-6, Boys 3-6-1
Assistant coaches: Megan Dates, Renee Lanager, Holly Rauch, Olivia Sealy, Steve Williamson, Jason McKenzie, Andy Bowen, Leslie Long, Tim McCamely
Key losses: Logan Day
Returning letterwinners: Kyle Albert, Derek Moore, Curtis Shimel, Payton Moore, Michael Shimmel, Nick Patrick, Dane Soltis
Key newcomers: Jovone Bickle, Nick Sperling, Brad Dunkel, Samuel Lansberry, Zach Myers, Matt Shimmel
Key losses: Janell Foster, Mandy Schmidt, Jamie Watro
Returning letterwinners: Celena Garcia, Lisa Heginothom, Olivia Franchock, Ryann Knowles, Kylie Whitehead, Julia Burns, Kyra James, Lacey Potter
Key newcomers: Olivia Eyerly, Britney Scott, Lozetta Davis, Tierra Miller
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy
Head coach: Jayson Jackson (fifth season)
Assistant coaches: Brenna O’Connor, Tim Kamats, Olivia Watkins
Key losses: Brian Hackman, Gabe Sandoval, Mike Jabco
Returning letterwinners: Eli Urban, Charles Ross, Andy Rogan, Michael Peters, Max Wortman, Theo Spychalski, John Paul Romero
Key newcomers: Lance Hamilton, Jacob Cusatis, Kaelan Wright, Noah Peeler, Brendan Robinson, Nathan Gray, Jason Thomas
Key losses: Cecilia Surovec, Kenzie Olds
Returning letterwinners: Jordan Wiser, Kate Ott, Grace Cousins, Emma Youngmark, Monica Surovec, Xabine Stager-Kamats, Jordan Dawson, Bella Bevilacqua, Bella Bassett, Anna Legaspi
Key newcomers: Sarah Watkins, Sera Mazza, Julia Cusatis, Lea Fisher, Mary Elliot, Greta Miller, Lucia Person, Jiyoon Kim, Lindsey Carmack
Head coach: Boys—Steve Shisler (first season); Girls—Jennifer Evans (11th season)
Last year: Boys 6-1; Girls 6-1, District 6 Class AAA champions
Assistant coaches: Artie Gilkes, Joe Sarra, Tom Kleban, Chris Cipro, Matt Seeland, Nick Kello, Rebecca Donaghue
Key losses: Matt Beyerle, Eric Heatwole, Kyle Charney, Joe Moen, Tyler Smith, Matt Suchanec, Ryan Matviichuck
Key newcomers: Mitchell Etter, Stan Hamilton, Jake Hefkin, Craig Hilliard, Owen Isham, Luke Knipe, Chase Longenecker, Donovan Moses, Jeremy Thompson, Titus Thompson
Key losses: Larissa Burka, Emma Domico, Megan Fry, Ellie Mhando, Alyssa Valent
Returning letterwinners: Sarah Almarzooqi, Jordan Bair, Sophie Bollinger, Taylor Butterbaugh, Liana Craig, Haley Crawford, Catherine Curtin, Bella Divirgillio, Natasha Fedkina, Haley Garvin, Taylor Givens, Rose Handel, Addy Hardy, Jackie Horner, Kassidy Kane, Veronika Karpenko, Peyton Lee, Ellen Maple, Julia Neely, Jordi Rohrbach, Cailin Saylor, Esther Seeland, Ellie Strauss, Kinsey Thompson, Leann Verica, Zoe Wicks, Rachel Wylie, and Hannah Yoder
Key newcomers: Erica Feese, Anna Hendey, Emilia Hicks, Emma Maras, Noelia Pagano, Britney Peachey, Megan Petrine, Lily Plute, Denaya Poston, Lyndsey Reed, Casey Restivo, Rachel Sellers, and Emma Simon