DuBOIS — The DuBois girls track and field team finds itself in and unfamiliar role entering the the 2018 season — one that will see the Lady Beavers being the hunter instead of the hunted.
That’s because Bradford ended the Lady Beavers dominance over the District 9 track scene a year ago.
Bradford ended DuBois’ streak of 75 straight dual meet victories — a run that dated back to 2008 — with a close 77-73 win at DuBois in late April. The Lady Owls then went on to capture the District 9 Class 3A team crown over DuBois, 99.5-83, to end the Lady Beavers’ three-year run as champs.
Bradford’s win at districts means for just the second time in the past decade, DuBois won’t enter a season as the defending D-9 champs. Bradford also won the team crown in 2014.
To get back on top, DuBois will have to unseat a talented Bradford squad, and do so with a squad that is somewhat in a state of rebuilding. DuBois graduated 10 seniors, seven of which scored points at districts. Chief among those losses are D-9 javelin champ Ashley McCluskey and Jessica Smith, the team’s second-leading point scorer with 136.
The cupboard isn’t complete bare for veteran coach Scott Sullivan and his staff, as the Lady Beavers return a pair of district champs — seniors Crystal Clinger (discus) and Jerica Fisher (high jump) and its leading point scorer last year in fellow senior Reese Sayers (168), who placed in three events at districts. Clinger also was second in the shot put.
Also back are the likes of sophomore Kyra Hoover (105) and senior Maddison King (104), who were third and fourth, respectively, in points last season.
“It will be somewhat of a rebuilding year for us as we regroup from a disappointing end of the season last year,” said Sullivan. “Being undefeated in dual meets and winning District 9 Championships have always been our goals, and we came up empty in both of those goals last season.
“We may be a little spoiled in our past success, but nonetheless, we will continue to set our goals high. My staff and I, and our returning student-athletes, have been chomping at the bit since the end of May to bring the District 9 Team Championship back to DuBois Area. Although we will clearly be the underdog this year, I am encouraged by the attitude and work athic so far this preseason.”
Sayers returns to lead the sprinting corps, one that looks to be a young group after her.
“Sayers will be a great leader for our younger sprinters as she looks to finish her career on a high note,” said assistant coach Justin Marshall. “Sophomores Cayla Donahue, Brynlie Galiczynski and Alana Burton and freshman Antonia Fenice are showing a lot of promise early on.”
King and Fisher will lead the hurdlers, while senior Marissa King and junior Kelli Hoffer will be looked upon to anchor the jumping crew. Look for freshman Morgan Allman, McKenna Britton, Julia Bashline and Eve Barnett to make an impact between the hurdle and jumping events.
DuBois also returns a wealth of experience in both the distance events and in the throws. Hoover, along with seniors Lauren Usaitis and Julie Marchioni, sophomore Emalee Horner and junior Trulee Stainbrook will lead the distance group.
Over in the field, Clinger, twin sister Courtney Clinger and fellow senior Gabby Snyder headline the throwers. Snyder and Courtney Clinger finished second and third, respectively, in the discus last year. Senior Caitlin Drahushak, a transfer from DuBois Central Catholic, also looks to help the team in the javelin with the departure of McCluskey and Gabi Wayne.
Sullivan will be assisted by Marshall, Brad Sweet and Bob Bateman.
DuBois is set to open the season Tuesday at Elk County Catholic in a meet that will also feature DuBois Central Catholic.
Seniors: Abbey Carr, Courtney Clinger, Crystal Clinger, Kassandra Dawson, Caitlin Drahushak, Maddison King, Marissa King, Ireland Lydick, Julie Marchioni, Reese Sayers, Ashley Stewart, Dezyrae Stewart, Lauren Usaitis. Juniors: Jerica Fisher, Heather Gilga, Kelli Hoffer, Vanessa Roudybush, Gabrielle Ruth, Gabrielle Snyder, Natalie Sprague, Trulee Stainbrook, Joelle Tabacsko. Sophomores: Danielle Baumgartner, Jessica Brant, Alana Burton, Madisan Cable, Cayla Donahue, Brynlie Galiczynski, Krista Harper, Kyra Hoover, Emalee Horner, Kaylee Kronenwetter, Madison Pernesky, Ashley Usaitis. Freshmen: Morgan Allman, Eve Barnett, Julia Bashline, McKenna Britton, Lydia Dixon, Antonia Fenice, Sydney Gray, Emily Kennedy, Chyenne Knisely, Katie LaMorte, Shaelinn Muth, Megan O’Rourke, Natalia Sepulvuda, Sarah Swope, Anna Wingard, Natalie Zartman.