DuBOIS — Streaks are made to be broken, but the DuBois Area High School girls track and field team is hoping that starting another can be just as rewarding as its last one.
The Lady Beavers, which went 7-0 in dual meets last season to push their mark to 63-straight victories, saw a six-year District 9 Class AAA championship run end with a loss to Bradford in the D-9 meet in 2014.
However, it didn’t take them long to get back on the horse as they retook the title in 2015.
They’re hoping that is just the start of another lengthy championship run while also adding to their current 63-meet unbeaten streak.
“Once again our main team goal is to win another D-9 team title in May,” DuBois head coach Scott Sullivan, who starts his 28th year at the helm, said. “But, the streak of seven consecutive undefeated seasons is something that no one wants to be responsible for ending. The streak is definitely a motivator, not only for the student-athletes but for the coaches as well.
“The D-9 track and field coaching fraternity is a close-knit group with a lot of friendships, but we love to battle one another as well — especially Bradford. They’re definitely our arch-rival, but there’s a lot of respect between the two programs as well.”
The Lady Beavers don’t quite have the kinds of numbers that they’ve seen in the past, especially upper-classmen, who account for just 16 spots on the roster, but that may not be a problem for DuBois.
“Although we don’t have anywhere near the depth that we’ve had in the past decade, we do have two vital things,” Sullivan said. “We have a hard-working group of student-athlete leaders, and an excellent coaching staff. I believe that our assistant coaches are the backbone of this program. Simply put — they know their stuff.”
Rosary Pennington, a 13-year assistant, will coach the jumps and hurdles, while 10-year assistant Justin Marshall will coach sprints and Brad Sweet, in his eighth season, will coach the throwers.
The Lady Beavers also have a lot of returning talent for those assistants to work with including senior jumper Dayna DeSalve, who set school records in both the long jump (17-08) and triple jump (36-3.5) last year.
DeSalve, who was the team MVP last season, had three first-place finishes in the district meet.
“It’s a huge positive to have the school-record holder (for long and triple jumps) return for another year,” Pennington said. “She sets the standard for hard work and leads by example.”
The team will also get a lift from the return of senior Brooke Leithner, who took more than a year off because of injuries, as well as freshman Kelli Hoffer who has shown potential.
Sophomore Marissa King, who finished in a four-way tie for second at the D-9 meet, will return as the team’s best pole vaulter.
DuBois also returns a good group of throwers as senior Valla Palmiere (shot) and Brandi Johnson (javelin) are expected to lead the way.
Both finished third in those events in the district meet a year ago.
“Anything less than individual district titles will be a letdown (for them),” Sullivan said. “These girls have put the time and effort in to what it takes to be successful. We’re looking for them to help coach Sweet bring the other young girls along.”
Two of those will be sophomore twins Courtney and Crystal Clinger, who both had Top 5 finishes in the D-9 meet last year. Courtney was second in the discu,s while Crystal was fifth in the shot.
Freshmen Gabby Buckley and junior Ashley McCluskey are also showing potential.
On the track, sophomore Reese Sayers will look to improve on last season in the sprint events where she finished fifth in the 100 dash and took home a first-place finish as part of the 400 relay team.
Sullivan believes it’s possible for her to challenge for a title in multiple events this season.
She’ll be joined in the 400 relay by DeSalve, who also ran as part of the team last year, and perhaps Leithner who will be competing in the same events as DeSalve.
That 400 relay team has anchored the DuBois squad, taking the title in the last eight D-9 meets.
Freshman Chelsea DeSalve could also make some contributions in the sprints this season.
Senior Payton McAninch will lead the distance runners on the squad. She’s dominated the last two years in cross country, taking back-to-back District 9-10 titles.
DuBois is hoping some of that success crosses over onto the track where she’ll be joined in the long-distance events by Cassie Folmar, Liz French, Trulee Stainbrook, Bayley Strouse and Julie Marchioni.
Juniors Jessica Smith and Kate Sutter will lead the middle-distance runners while sophomores Maddison King and Ellie Welch will look to help ease the load in the hurdles.
DuBois will open the season when it travels to Elk County Catholic Tuesday.
Seniors: Madi Cole, Cassie Cooper, Dayna DeSalve, Brandi Johnson, Kelly Kumetis, Brooke Leithner, Payton McAninch, Valla Palmiere, Brandi Smith, Kate Sutter. Juniors: Erin Crawford, Cassie Folmar, Ashley McCluskey, McKensy, Peles, Nicole Schalk, Jessica Smith. Sophomores: Abbey Carr, Amornluck Chaiyanont, Courtney Clinger, Crystal Clinger, Christina Cooper, Kassandra Dawson, Lizzy French, Marissa King, Maddison King, Ireland Lydick, Julie Marchioni, Haley Pernesky, Reese Sayers, Dez Stewart, Eliana Welch. Freshmen: Andrea Bankovich, Tiana Brocious, Gabrielle Buckley, Chelsea DeSalve, Jerica Fischer, Bethany Guldbrandsen, Faith Hanna, Alaina Heberling, Kelli Hoffer, Nickysia Howard, Kailey Mattivi, Brianna Nelson, Charlie Renwick, Gabbie Bush, Molly Scheffler, Afton Slima, Natalie Sprague, Trulee Stainbrook, Bayley Strouse, Joelle Tabacsko.