Since the school was created in 2011, Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy has never had a female make it to the PIAA Track and Field Championships. After Tuesday’s District 6 Class AA Championships, the Lady Wolves may have two.
Senior Lucia Person and freshman Sera Mazza have become strong forces in the distance world. Last fall, they led the Lady Wolves to a PIAA Cross Country Class A title. Now, they’re looking for individual district titles and a chance to run in the state meet.
Person already has two district track and field titles to her credit.
In 2015, she won the 1,600 and 3,200-meter races while attending with Huntingdon Area High School. She then moved to the area to be closer to family.
At the PIAA meet, she medaled with an eighth-place finish in the 3,200. She was 10th in the 1,600.
Coach Jayson Jackson, who also coached the girls in cross country, was excited to see Person’s name on the roster.
“I thought it was great. I thought she’d probably get along with the other girls well and be a hugely beneficial addition to the team, and I hoped she would gain a lot as well,” he said.
Judging by Person’s times, it’s easy to see the impact she’s made. She holds the school record for the 1,600 (5:12) and 3,200 (11:16). Both times are a career bests for the senior, showing that she was impacted by the program as well.
Mazza is coming off an extremely successful cross country season, in which she was the crowned district champion and placed fifth at the state meet. Person was close behind, finishing ninth.
However, the transition into track and field hasn’t been easy for either one of them.
Mazza cited the differing strategies of events as confusing.
“I’ve been put in multiple events, the mile, 3,200, 800, 400, and there’s so many different ways that you can run them so it can get confusing running back and forth, but it’s also cool,” she said.
Mazza also admits to missing cross country, the sport she deems as her current favorite.
“It’s very different,” she said. “I felt like I could have done better (at the beginning of the year), but I’m also not sure if I could have done better. I just did so well in cross country that I just wanted to continue that, but I also think that cross country kind of wore me out a little bit.”
Person, on the other hand, is just happy to be back on the track and be healthy while running.
“I had some pretty bad iron deficiencies during cross country and indoor,” she said, “so I couldn’t run a lot. It was really hard to race long periods of time so it was cool in outdoor to be able to run for long races again.”
Even with the sometimes difficult transitions, the two were happy to have each other to lean on.
“They definitely help each other out in workouts,” Jackson said, “they have different strength and weaknesses so they complement each other and it’s helped push them both to the top of the state.”
As a freshman, Mazza admires the senior who has helped her throughout both the cross country and track and field seasons.
“She pushes me every day,” Mazza said. “She helped me a lot in cross country, and she’s helping me in track. Her main event is the 3,200 and mine is the mile so we train a little bit differently. But she still helps and pushes me.
“She’s always encouraging me the entire way,” Mazza added. “She’s taught me to keep pushing myself, even when I’m tired just don’t give up. And then just like, confidence and believing that I can get there.”
Person echoes the sentiment.
“It’s fun, it’s definitely fun,” said Person, who plans to attend Penn State and will try to walk on with the Nittany Lions. “It’s good to have a training partner, especially one who’s a girl. It’s cool to be surrounded by a girl with so much talent and I just feel lucky.”
Regardless of how the two finish Tuesday, they both will leave the season knowing they played a major part in St. Joseph’s track history.
Even with Person’s only season with the team, her impact has already been made.
“She has a great work ethic,” Jackson said. “She really wants to have the team succeed first and how her contributions fit into the team’s success where her strengths are. She’s been phenomenal on every level.”
Maza, on the other hand, will be able to take Person’s lessons forward as she becomes a major part of the team’s bright future.
They have each had a phenomenal season and are poised to close it out in an impressive fashion.
They will finish with not only a great season, but a great year.
District 6 Track & Field Championships
When: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday (Class AA); 3:30 p.m. Thursday (Class AAA)
Where: Mansion Park, Altoona
Note: For the first time, admission will be charged for the meet — $5 adults, $2 students with ID