The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


May 19, 2013

Hickory boys edge WM for D-10 Class AA Track team title

---- — HARBORCREEK — Hickory High co-head coach Mark Slezak referenced the term “exponential” in explaining the four-fold heart-felt feeling of having a relay team qualify for the PIAA Championships.

That sentiment seemed to summarize Mercer County’s performance during Saturday’s annual District 10 Class AA Track & Field Championships.

At Harbor Creek High’s Paul J. Weitz Stadium, it was “ … six hours of drama,” characterized by Sharpsville assistant coach Barry McLaughlin Sr. unfolding in further domination by Mercer County’s contingent.

Hickory boys edged West Middlesex, 91-87.5, for the crown, while Villa Maria girls were victorious, 89-78, with West Middlesex 2nd, Wilmington placed 3rd (70).

“We pride ourselves — since we started coaching together  — that you always want people in every event area to place at the district meet, and hopefully, get to states, and that’s the balance we’ve worked on,” Hickory co-head coach Barb Dzuricsko related.

“There’s no doubt we knew that we were the top two teams,” said Slezak, referencing the Hornets and Big Reds. “We knew they were good, they knew we were good.

“In track and field, it adds up to total points at the end, but it takes individual performances by everyone,” Slezak continued, “but you look at all the events and you add ’em up, and it takes a total team effort to win, so it never comes down to one person, one event.”

“On Wednesday, it was Hickory and Grove City girls, and here (Satur)day it was Hickory and West Middlesex boys. Again, it just shows the strength of Mercer County track and field,” Dzuricsko proudly proclaimed. “For years, I think we’ve all raised each other up, to the point where we feel confident to battle the northern teams; whereas, in the past they used to dominate track and field.

“So I’m proud for all of Mercer County – Wednesday and (Satur)day,” Dzuricsko added.

In AA, the top 2 finishers in each event, and any subsequent placewinner who meets pre-determined standards, advances to the annual PIAA Championships, Memorial Day Weekend at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.

Included among the myriad of Mercer County gold-medalists were West Middlesex sprinter Clay Allen, who edged Hickory’s DeShawn Coleman, 10.90 to 10.95, in the 100-meter dash.

“(Coleman) beat me at the start, but I knew I had the ‘catch-up’ speed because I’ve been used to doing that since early in my career, and I just kept pushing,” Allen explained.

Allen also annexed the 200-meter dash (22.46) to defend his twin titles of a year ago, and  acknowledged he and Coleman bring out each other’s best.

“I wouldn’t call it so much a rivalry, but it’s good competition,” Allen continued regarding his battles with the West Virginia University-bound Coleman. “It’s like when I was a freshman running against (former Farrell state placewinner) Ron Jackson -- it’s just good competition. (Coleman) beat me (at the Mercer County Invitatational); I beat him. It just goes back and forth, I guess.

“Last week I ran my season best, but I beat that (Satur)day, so I definitely run a lot better with competition,” Allen added.

Also Saturday, Wilmington thrower Jon Yohman doubled up in the shot put (59-4 1⁄2) and discus (179-8 1/2). While not satisfied with his respective throws, Yohman said,

“ … States is the place to do it, obviously. But districts is the second-biggest meet of the year. For me to hit my best rhrows, I’d rather it be (at state). There is pressure, but I talked to my coach (Brandon Phillian), and, either way, I know he’ll still be proud of me even if I don’t perform well. But I’m trying to expect myself to perform well, and if I don’t I will be disappointed. But looking back on the season, I shouldn’t have any regrets with my practices and all.

“It’s just expectations of what people expect you to do,” Yohman continued, emphasizing, “but don’t really listen to the other people; only listen to you and the people who support you the most like my coach and my family … I only listen to the supporters; not the people who shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

“I’m hoping for two golds (at the PIAA Championships),” Yohman forecasted, “but like I said, there’s no regrets for this year. I put everything I had into it, and if I don’t get gold, I will be disappointed. But that’s what I’m hoping for.”

Arguably, Rebekah Petty posted the most impressive performance of the day.

Petty pole-vaulted 12-8 – an inch higher than the existing PIAA Championships Class AA record – won the 100-meter dash (12.59), and anchored the Lady Trojans’ runner-up sprint-relay foursome.

“I’m gonna have to do it again Friday, so I’m really hoping to do that,” Petty pronounced regarding the pole vault. “Right now, I’m hoping to get the record, but I would also like to get thirteen (feet) -- that would be awesome!

“There’s definitely pressure that comes with it. You have pressure to perform, ‘cause anything can go wrong on any, given day,” Petty continued, “but I’m really excited and hope everything goes well, like it did (Satur)day.”

Also leading Mercer County gold-medalists was Sharon jumper Johnathon Jacoway, who swept the long (22-4), triple (45-7 1⁄4) and high (6-4) .

”I felt a lot of pressure, but I knew that I had a lot of support from my teammates, a lot of my friends, my family, and I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I came here, did my best, and it showed,” Jacoway summarized.

Jacoway will be making his 3rd trip to Shippensburg University after medaling in 2 events a year ago.

“My goal is to get first place in triple jump and top three in either the long or high jump,” Jacoway continued. “I’ve been blessed to have had a healthy year, I haven’t had any major injuries or anything else that’s held me back. So whatever happens, it’s on me; I can’t blame anybody else,” the Penn State University-bound Jacoway concluded.

Other gold decorated countians included West Middlesex’s Rachel DeMaria (shot, 41-3; javelin, 123-9) and Luke Patten (pole vault, 14-6); Wilmington’s Julie Falvo (disc, 126-4), Hannah Drake (triple jump, 35-11 1⁄2) and Tyler Donati (javelin, 179-4);  Sharpsville’s Tyler Confer (400-meter dash, 50.50); Mercer hurdlers Janette Berger (45.85)  and Jarred Davis (15.30); Lakeview’s Courtney King (high jump, 5-4).  

The day commenced with a trio of 4x8 relay quartets qualifying for state, including Wilmington girls (9:45.07) and Lakeview (8:20.50) and Hickory (8:16.61) boys.

The members of the state-qualifying 4x8 teams included: runner-up Wilmington (Rikki Brumbaugh, Kate Robb, Drake, Allison Baldwin); 1st-place Lakeview (Blake Reddick, Devon Workman, Connor Stankovich, Billy Kinsey), and runner-up Hickory (Derek Work, Logan Griffen, Marcus Sonoga, Kevin Jancsar).

Also, the 4x1 teams of Lakeview (King, Taylor Reed, Andrea McConnell, Marla Holland), Greenville (Molly Montalvo, Bradi Osborne, Sammi Keys, Petty) – which were 1-2 -- and 1st place Hickory (Markus Schumacher, Mike Palumbo, Matt Voytik, Coleman).

Lakeview’s 4x4 foursome (Stankovich, Zach VanDusen, Kinsey, Reddick) qualified for state based on time (3:28.88), despite finishing 4th. Similarly, West Middlesex also advanced to state (42.75), though the Big Reds were runners-up to Hickory. Additionally, Sharon’s 4x4 team (Leonna Bell, Jessica Talbert-Kirsch, Zhane’a Davis, Xsila Powell) combined for a state-qualifying 4:06.48 clocking.

Speaking specifically of his Hickory sprint team, but perhaps on behalf of all relay foursomes, Hickory assistant coach and mathematician Bill Dzuricsko said,

“You try to make it a scientific process, but it’s not; it’s the human element, and the kids really rose to the occasion.

“The goal,” Bill Dzuricsko explained, “is to make it a synergy, where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, and I think that’s what we have. Instead of just adding up the four times the kids have, it’s the magic with the baton that they hand to each other, that’s what makes them go a little bit faster – that other people are depending on you. It’s a pleasure to watch.”

Notes: Veteran Middlesex mentor Bob Morris noted DeMaria is going to defer her berth at state in the javelin to teammate Sarah Lucich, who placed 3rd, but will not bump up to the runner-up. Morris mentioned that Kristen White set school standards in the 1600- (5:17.61) and 3200- (11:41.10) in advancing to state. Owing to a scratch by Villa Maria’s Bernadet Prichard, Morris said his own Chloe Tyillian, the 3rd-place finisher (11:57.3) in the 3200, also qualified.

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