By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
HARBORCREEK— Some athletes seeded 1st in four events would feel pressure. For Grove City High senior Daniel Jaskowak, it’s an opportunity for name recognition.
“I kind’ve like it. It’s cool, because people know who you are,” related Jaskowak, who won 3 events during Wednesday’s District 10 Class AAA Track & Field Championships.
At Harbor Creek High’s Paul J. Weitz Stadium, Jaskowak journeyed to wins in the 800- (1:59.21) and 1600-meter (4:26.91) runs, and anchored the 4x8 relay to lead the Eagles to the runner-up berth behind Cathedral Prep.
“It’s exciting,” the Virginia Tech University-bound Jaskowak related. “I didn’t’ feel too much pressure coming out and doing it. I’m just gonna run what I can, run well.”
“He’s a one-in-a-lifetime athlete, but I’ve been blessed with three of those,” Grove City head coach Lou Marriotti said in praise of Jaskowak. “He’s the latest. There was Jake Kildoo, who graduated a few years ago, and Mike McWilliams, who ended up going to Notre Dame and being a four-time All-American there.
“I’ve had the privilege of coaching all three of those athletes,” Marriotti continued, “and Dan is one-in-a-million. Easy to coach, a great person, a great athlete, works hard.”
Each individual event gold medalist, plus placewinners 2-through-7 who met pre-determined qualifying standards, advance to the annual PIAA Championships.
Grove City’s girls garnered a D-10 3-peat as they outlasted Mercer County rival Hickory, 150.5 to 108.10. Cathedral Prep produced 139 points to outpace Grove City (110.50) in the boys’ event.
“The girls wanted the title, they worked hard, and they achieved it,” summarized Marriotti, the 6th season of his 2nd stint with Grove City’s program. “We know (Hickory’s) a quality program with quality athletes and quality coaches and always come prepared; we try to do the same. I think they bring out the best in our athletes because we know we have to go one hundred percent to stay with them, and I think they do the same against us.
“I think both clubs win when we meet,” Marriotti mused.
“But up through the two-mile was our strong point (Wednes)day. We set a new school record in the four-by-eight and a new school record in the four-by-four (4:03.77) ,” Marriotti noted.
Hickory’s Sophia Fustos finished 1st by putting the shot 43-9 3⁄4, and was joined at the top of the medals stand by George Junior Republic shot-putter Neiko Pratt, who produced a 48-7 3⁄4 throw. Fustos also finished 2nd in the discus behind Youngstown State University recruit Jaynee Corbett of Corry and qualified for state (118-1).
“I’m happy that I won, but disappointed that I didn’t PR (43-10 3⁄4) … but I’m looking to peak at states. We’ll see what happens there,” Fustos said. “But this is exciting! I went to states last year, but there were other girls on the team who were smashing my scores, so it’s exciting to go as number one. It’s gonna be a lot of work … and there’s gonna be a lot of pressure, but mostly from myself.”
Pratt is a 1st-year senior who had never competed in track & field or put the shot, but worked with coach Rick Tharp.
“I PR’d (Wednesday). I wasn’t really sure how I was gonna do, and all of a sudden I threw for first,” Pratt, a Northeast Philadelphia native, related. “It’s kind’ve overwhelming. … I never imagined something like (qualifying for the PIAA Championships). It’s unbelievable for me, a kid from George Junior making it to states is big time, for me, anyway.”
Other Mercer County gold medalists included Grove City’s Mary Jaskowak 1600- (5:17.43) meter and 3200- (11:44.16) runs, Lauren Decker (200 (26.07) and 400-meter (59.76) dashes, and pole-vaulter Hailey Hall (10-0).
“It’s so exciting!” said junior Mary Jaskowak. “We just wanted to come out and get a better time, but we PR’d by ten seconds and broke the school record again. This feels awesome, especially with this group of girls,” she said of their upcoming trip to Shippensburg. We’ve been together forever, and it’s their senior year, so it’s just a great way to end the year.”
Grove City girls’ 4x8 quartet of Kara McClain, Abby Casalnova, Jaskowak and Decker also established a school standard (9:37.10).
Also qualifying for Memorial Day Weekend’s PIAA Championships at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania based on time were: Grove City’s Kyle Trinch (high hurdles); however, Trinch tweaked his left hamstring.Trinch courageously compeged in the intermediates and placed as runnerup (39.10) to Central Tech’s Greg Miaczynski. Trinch also triple-jumped to 3rd place. Also, Grove City high-jumper McKenzie Fagan (5-5) advanced to state.
Note: Due to late finish time of Wednesday’s meet (9:30 p.m.), the agate was not available when The Herald went to press. Agate results will be published in Friday’s edition.