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Southmoreland track teams have high expectations

The Southmoreland boys and girls track and field teams are each coming off a strong 2011 season in which both programs qualified for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.

This year, the goals will remain high, although the teams will face their share of challenges this season.

"Last year, we thought we would go further than what we did," Southmoreland boys coach Bill Schrecengost said. "Hopefully, with maturity, we can go further."

The boys and the girls were beaten by Freedom in the first round of the playoffs last season.

For the Southmoreland boys, filling voids left by graduates Dylan Miller (jumps) and state qualifier Kekoa Hillen (throws) will be paramount. Fortunately, the Scotties seem to have plenty of athletes ready to step in.

Returning WPIAL qualifiers Dalton Barbus and Asa Costelnock, both seniors, will fill key positions. Barbus is a top hurdler and can be used in the javelin. Costelnock is a sprinter and high jumper.

Junior Tyler Ramsey is a returning top sprinter, and senior Adam Bundridge will be the top returning thrower. Senior Tommy Szatkowski likely will be plugged into a number of different relay races.

"We return a good number," Schrecengost said, noting that his roster number is approximately 45 athletes. "We have good sprinters, and our distance runners should be strong. Fortunately, our program has been strong, and if you get it going the way we've been going for the past 15 years, you always expect to be competitive. From year to year, our strengths change, but we're always competitive."

The Southmoreland girls team also expects to be competitive, although the Scotties will have to achieve their goals with a smaller number of athletes than usual.

"We have a lot of green," Southmoreland girls coach Chuck Brittain said. "The seniors just didn't come out. It's really tough to have 45 kids and then drop to under 30. But we'll slot kids in where we can, and we'll do the best we can as a team. And we'll have fun."

While they lack numbers, the Scotties have some talented athletes.

Senior Jessica Shotts and junior Emily Lessman have competed at the state level. Lessman is a two-time state qualifier in the high jump. She also will be used in hurdle events.

Shotts seeded 24th out of 27 state qualifiers, surprised many last year by earning an eighth-place medal in the shot put. She returns as the team's top thrower.

Both Southmoreland teams will compete in Section 4-AA with Clairton, East Allegheny, Greensburg Central Catholic, Mt. Pleasant, Neighborhood Academy, Serra, South Allegheny and Trinity Christian.

Additional Information:

At a glance

» Southmoreland track and field coaches Bill Schrecengost and Chuck Brittain will be assisted by Dave Keefer and Zach Cavalier.

» Southmoreland opens the season with an exhibition meet March 27 at Monessen.

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