Belle Vernon runner going the distance
It was no surprise to Belle Vernon track coach Chris Stasicha when Matt McCloskey set a new school record in the 800 meters at the WPIAL finals last year as a junior. In setting the school record with a time of 1:59.99, good for a 13th-place finish, he bettered the prior record of 2:01. In breaking the two-minute barrier, McCloskey became the first Leopards' runner to eclipse that mark.
As a sophomore McCloskey qualified for the prestigious WPIAL finals in the 400 meters, running the quarter-mile in 52.53. In the Mid-Mon Valley Classic last year McCloskey copped firsts in the 400 and 800, second in the 400 at the Big 8 Conference meet and another second in the 800 at the California University of Pennsylvania Track Carnival.
“Matt finished the season on a high note with his WPIAL finish,” Stasicha said. “Qualifying as a sophomore, we knew his potential was there, and he improved on his numbers last year. He is motivated to do the best he can to reach his goals. Matt played football and added some muscle, which has helped him on the track. He has matured as a runner and is more of a complete runner now.”
Stasicha added that McCloskey could be the Leopards' top miler, but his strengths in the 400 and 800 meters runner keep him out of the mile event and fresh for the shorter distance races. Besides the WPIAL final last year, McCloskey was a shining light against Yough, with four first places, including in the 400 and 800. Running the anchor leg on the 3,200 meter and 1,600 meter relay teams, he came from behind to win both events.
Even though he has found success in several events, McCloskey, a middle-distance runner in the 400 and 800, said he prefers “the 400. It's a faster race and not as long and monotonous.”
And Stasicha is looking for even better results from his distance ace this season, who was a conference defensive honorable mention selection in football this past season.
“Matt's off-season workouts and conditioning went well,” Stasicha added. “If there is an area where he can improve, it's being more aggressive at the beginning of a race and keeping pace with the leaders until he sprints the final 200 meters.”
Wanting to be involved in a spring sport, McCloskey literally followed in the footsteps of his brother, Mitchell, who ran track for the Leps.
“I watched him and followed him,” McCloskey said. “I tried it, and I've enjoyed it. So far everything is working out well. My goal last year was to get the school record in the 800, to get under two minutes, so I was satisfied, even though I didn't qualify for states. This season I hope to lower my time in the 800, and I would like to go to states.”
But McCloskey's achievements extend beyond the track to the classroom and extracurricular activities. With a complement of honors classes, he maintains a 4.3 grade average and is ranked 19th out of some 200 students in his senior class. A member of the National Honor Society, McCloskey also holds membership in the MIC-SADD and Interact clubs.
Additionally, earlier this year McCloskey, a member of Troop 1005 in Washington, was presented with his Eagle Scout Badge for his work in building 20 picnic tables in Washington Park in Washington.
As McCloskey was considering several possible ideas for his Eagle Scout project, he discovered the park's need for replacing the tables, he said. He began to plan the project in 2011 and raised $2,700 from local businesses. Actual construction of the standard 8-foot long tables, with the help of family members and his scout troop, was completed in July 2012. Recognizing those businesses responsible for the donations, McCloskey attached name plates with donors' names on each table.
“There was an immediate and fantastic response from the local businesses,” McCloskey said. “People were glad to participate and the appearance of the park definitely improved. This was definitely a worthwhile project.”
Washington Councilman and Director of Parks Terry Faust added that each year the city offers potential Eagle Scouts the opportunity to become involved with various city-related projects, and McCloskey was quick to accept the responsibility for building the new picnic tables.
“We either needed the older tables to go through a renovation or have new tables built, and Matt did an outstanding job,” Faust explained. “Besides the quality work, what made the project more appealing was that there was no expense for the city. Matt accepted all responsibilities with the fundraising as well. We are proud of his dedication and work.”
Les Harvath is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- News was plentiful in pre-holiday rush of December 1957
- Ringgold agrees to stay under Pa. tax limit
- Trial ordered for Finleyville man accused of fondling himself near school bus
- Keystone’s expansion to Greensburg going well
- Craft brewery opens in West Newton fire hall
- Author takes final look back in Brownsville history series
- Barking dog gripe leads to historic Charleroi drug stash
- Charleroi Area student accused of bringing pellet gun to school
- Salvation Army gets ‘miracle’
- Perryopolis police officer dies in Route 51 crash
- ‘Ramblers’ a great memory for Monessen native Jones