DuBOIS — High numbers and returning talent is usually cause for optimism, and DuBois Central Catholic’s track and field program expects to see continued growth in 2016.
Last year’s season was record-setting in a variety of categories that included participation numbers, school records, scoring records, and post-season qualifications. Coach Tom Shade expects that trend to continue.
Expecting a big year individually are a few of the returning medalists from last season’s District 9 championships, including top-ranked Riley Meyers in the hurdles and Joey Varischetti in the shot put.
Last season, Meyers, now a junior, became the school’s first-ever hurdler to qualify for states with a silver medal at districts. She set school records in both hurdle events. Varischetti earned a bronze at districts in 2015, smashing the 42 year-old school record in the shot with a heave of 45-feet plus. Both Meyers and Varischetti are going after top spots in districts this year.
“Riley has put in time and effort in the off season, along with her hurdles teammate Cassie McAllister, and they have been some of the most consistent workers in the program,” said Shade. “They have overcome major challenges with the lack of hurdle facilities to practice on, but once that situation was improved they took full advantage. Look for Riley and Cassie to take first and second place in many competitions this season.
“Joey has come a very long way in throwing and is now working on full motion in the shot circle. So far his progress has been very encouraging, so we are pretty excited.”
Other returning veterans are 100-meter district medalist Jordy Frank, school-record jumps specialist Haley Frey, distance runners Meghan Graeca, Noah Pettenati and John Swalligan, Noah Vokes, Brian Elias, Hannah Miller, Pierce Yahner, Jake Fyock, Macey Hanes, Alex Verne, Kaitlyn Morelli, Allan Weible, Anthony Zucco and Katie Ellenberger.
“Jordy (400), Haley (jumps) and Meghan (distance) are going after school records which will also put them into the postseason competition,” said Shade. “Don’t be surprised if Haley or Macey also set the high jump standard this year.
“Noah is looking stronger than ever in the jumps and hurdles, and is on the path to being the all-time leading point-getter for the boys program.”
New members of the program are Liz Gankowski, Egan Peck, Andrew Trunzo, Anne Latuska, Abbey Pettenati, Haley Pettenati, Cait Drahushak, Hannah Holman, Jarrett Esposito, Caleb Elias, Kyrsten Ruch, Kasey Baronick, Mara Baronick, Delaney McMeekin, and Alex Micknis.
“The new teammates have shown promise,” said Shade. “Look for Trunzo to make news in the 200 and the jumps, while Liz and Egan should help us in the sprints. We have four girls looking to set the 4x800 record in Abbey, Haley, Meghan, and Liz, and we are really looking forward to that, because I have no doubt they will.
“Jarrett Esposito is a threat to the javelin record, and I can see Kasey, Mara, Kyrsten, Hannah, and Delaney all capable of breaking the javelin and discus records this year. Alex Micknis has shown an early aptitude in the throws as well.”
A few major players will not be returning, in many cases due to off-season injuries. Jake Gorham, last year’s leading scorer for the boys is out, along with sprinter Adriana Azzato. Also missing will be Mark Latuska, a member of the record-setting 4x100 squad.
“Although numbers are good, the Cardinal track teams are still below levels that will allow dual meet victories in most cases,” Shade said. “One long-term goal is to get the numbers needed to take on teams in scoring. The boys program has not won a dual in 40 years, and none of those schools exist now, or in some cases the program does not exist.
“The girls have never won a dual in the school’s history. It is something to shoot for, and if we get the right people together, it could happen this year.”
Central Catholic has a co-op with Brockway for track which helps get the team closer to competing in dual meets. Central Catholic has 21 athletes on the roster ,with Brockway adding 13, for a total of 34. However, even with the co-op the boys have just 15 on the roster while the girls have 19.
“The weather has been great for practice,” said Shade. “The kids have done well in dealing with the challenges, especially with the lack of facilities, and the unusual practice hours that comes with it. It’s great to see the interest in track at a high level for the school, and we will do all we can to ensure the athletes have a great experience this season.”
Shade is in his third year in the program and is assisted by Rusty Meyers.
Dubois Central Catholic travels to Johnsonburg on Thursday for its first dual meet.
Seniors: Jake Fyock, Alex Micknis, Joey Varischetti, Alex Verne, Anthony Zocco. Juniors: Jarrett Esposito, Brian Elias, Noah Pettenati, Andrew Trunzo. Sophomores: John Swaligan, Allan Weible, Noah Vokes, Pierce Yahner. Freshmen: Caleb Elias, Egan Peck.
Seniors: Cassie McAllister, Kasey Baronick, Mara Baronick, Katie Ellenberger. Juniors: Jordy Frank, Haley Frey, Hannah Holman, Riley Meyers, Macey Hanes, Delaney McMeeken. Sophomores: Caitlin Drahushak, Meghan Graeca, Hannah Miller, Kaitlyn Morelli, Liz Gankosky. Freshmen: Abbey Pettenati, Haley Pettenati, Anne Latuska, Kyrsten Ruch.