DuBOIS — The DuBois Central Catholic track and field program enjoyed a historic year in 2016 — one that was filled with a host of school records being broken and culminated with five District 9 Class AA titles and a record-number of state qualifiers.
Central Catholic lost D-9 shot put champ and school record holder Joey Varischetti to graduation, along with a couple other solid competitors.
However, DCC welcomes back a wealth of talent, including three athletes who combined to win four district titles a season ago. That fact, along with a 50 percent increase in participation through a successful co-op with Brockway is cause for optimism for even more success campaign this spring.
“After the record numbers last season, it was good to see another jump in the roster for 2017 — although the potential is much higher,” said DCC head coach Tom Shade. “I believe there are 100 students out there that are missing a great opportunity, and we just need to do a better job of promoting the sport. Either way, this will be another exciting year.”
Central group of talented returnees is headlined by seniors Riley Meyers and Haley Frey and sophomore Noah Vokes — a trio out to defend their district titles.
Meyers won D-9 titles in both the 100 and 300 hurdles, events she holds the school records in. She captured her crown in the 100 hurdles a year ago by besting her own school mark with a time of 16.20.
She also ran on DCC’s 4x400 relay squad that finished fifth at districts and set a new school mark with a time of 4:21.48.
Meyers is DCC’s single-season (335) and career points (475) record holder.
“Riley is probably the best team leader the girls have ever had, and she is instructing the next generation of sprinters and hurdlers with nice results early on,” said Shade. “Riley will be playing soccer and hurdling in the NCAA next year.”
Frey and Vokes are prime example of how well the co-op is working, as the pair are both Brockway students who never would have had the opportunity to compete in track if not for the agreement between the two schools.
Frey and Vokes won district titles in the high jump and long jump, respectively, in 2016 and are DCC record holders in those event.
Frey, who cleared 5-2 during the regular season, won districts at 5-0.
Vokes captured his D-9 title with a school-record leap of 20-9 and added a fourth-place finish in the triple jump and an 11th in the 300 hurdles. Vokes, the boys’ all-time season and career points scorer, also owns school records in the triple jump and 300 hurdles.
“Haley has taken the time to get extra training in the jumps this winter, and she learns quickly at any event she tries,” said Shade. “She is a gifted athlete who won’t be satisfied until she reaches her goals.
“Noah is another extremely versatile athlete, and there are few areas where he could not excel. He takes a competitive attitude to the meets and likes to get in all the events he can.”
While that trio of district champs headlines the DCC rosters, they are far from the only talent Shade has to work as the DCC squads features athletes who compete in only track and others who are multi-sport athletes in the spring.
Among that group of multi-sport athletes are Jordy Frank, Andrew Trunzo and Kaitlyn Morelli.
Frank placed fifth in the 100 dash at districts last year, while Trunzo captured two medals with a fourth place in the 100 and fifth in the long jump. Morelli just missed a pair of medals with seventh-place finishes in both the 200 and 400 dashes. Morelli set a new school record in the 400 at districts (1:03.06), a mark held by Meyers.
That trio will be joined in the sprinting events by the likes of Myers, Vokes, Egan Peck among others, while the Pettenatis, Maggie Schmader and Alex Ochs look to join Frey in the jumping events.
Junior Meghan Graeca, the school record holder in the 3,200, leads the distance runners. That group also includes the Pettenati twins (Abbey and Haley), Liz Gankowski, Caitlin Drahushak and Sylvia Pisarchick on the girls side and boys Linkin Nichols, John Swalligan, Noah Pettenati, and John Ritsick. Pisarchick, a freshman, was a state qualifier in cross country in the fall.
“It has been a very long time since DCC has had this many distance runners for track, if ever,” said Shade. “I have no doubt they are going to re-write the history books for the program. This is the first experience in track for many of them, but the talent and attitude is there.”
Shade also is excited about his throwers, who he feels have the ability to set new school marks in all three events, including breaking the oldest record the school has — Dan Bruno’s javelin record of 159 feet set in 1970.
“This is a nice crop of throwers with very exciting potential,” he said. “Jarrett Esposito Brian Elias, and Pete Downer are all going after that javelin record. Pierce Yahner, Hunter Antonuccio, Downer and Austin Bullers are the top shot and discus men at this point, and they have big shoes to fill.
“The girls range from freshman to seniors, but they bring experience and potential. I have been very impressed with Martina Swalligan, Juliana Stine, and Justine Stewart who show strength in every event. Many of the new teammates are trying the throws, so there is no telling at this point how it might come together.
“With these large numbers, it has been difficult to get the whole picture as to the total talent we have, and where they will eventually succeed the most. But, the talent is there and some big things are going to happen in 2017.”
Central Catholic is scheduled to open its season today at Smethport before competing at the Brookville Invite on Saturday.
Seniors: Brian Elias, Jarrett Esposito, Ryan Little, Hunter Antonuccio, Noah Pettenati, Andrew Trunzo. Juniors: Peter Downer, Tyler Serafini, Pierce Yahner. Sophomores: Austin Bullers, Caleb Elias, Sean Evans, Garrett McClintick, Egan Peck, Jon Schoeneman, John Swalligan, Noah Vokes. Freshmen: Linkin Nichols, John Ritsick, Shane Paisely.
Seniors: Jordy Frank, Macey Hanes, Haley Frey, Hannah Holman, Riley Meyers. Juniors: Caitlin Drahushak, Liz Gankowsky, Meghan Graeca, Ann Latuska, Kaitlyn Morelli. Sophomores: Madison Bearfield, Jordan Faith, Alexis Kosko, Madison Miller, Abbey Pettenati, Haley Pettenati, Maggie Schmader. Freshmen: Mariah Alanskas, Rachael Aravich, Hannah Holdren, Martina Swalligan, Jordy Kosko, Justine Stewart, Maddy Miscavish, Alex Ochs, Sylvia Pisarchick, Juliana Stine