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Franklin Regional senior runners ready to continue their careers as Dukes

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | for the Murrysville Star
Two track and field seniors from Franklin Regional High School sign with Duquesne University. Kaitlyn Figurelli and Luke Schott with Zachary Kessler, athletic director, and Rick Bullock, coach.

Luke Schott and Kaitlyn Figurelli have both put together decorated running careers for Franklin Regional, and starting in the fall, they will start their college careers under the same team's banner.

The two Franklin Regional seniors both officially committed to Duquesne last month, and they will start their time as distance runners for the Dukes in the fall cross-country season after one more season on the track for the Panthers this spring.

Though both arrived at the same decision for their destination, they each had their own reasons for picking the Division I program on the Bluff.

“When I went on the general tour there, it was really nice. But when I took my recruiting visit there, it was so great, and I could really feel myself becoming a part of that team,” Figurelli said.

“From September, I knew Duquense was going to be the best fit for me,” Schott said. “I knew I wanted to run at a D-I level, and I looked at some other schools around the area, but I kind of knew for a while that's where I wanted to go.”

With the Dukes, the two runners will join a program that has done a good job bringing in some of the best talent from near its own campus. More than half of this year's Duquesne roster is made up of former WPIAL or City League runners, including a handful from nearby schools to FR, such as Norwin and Hempfield.

“They have a staff (that knows) the WPIAL, and they have a lot of good people from nearby schools,” Figurelli said. “Plus, it's comforting to know that I'm close enough to get home and see my family if I need to, or anything like that.”

“Whenever you go to big meets like Baldwin (Invitational) or WPIALs, then you see the team (at Duquesne), you recognize about half of the kids from there,” Schott said.

“Most of the time you see those same kids progress and turn out really good in college. They take kids like us and make them awesome.”

Schott heads to Duquesne with the intention of studying biology or a related field on a pre-med track. Figurelli, on the other hand, intends to start out pursuing business or accounting, but she laughed and added that she's “confused” when it comes to settling on one major and likes the prospect of going to a larger school with many fields of study to choose from.

Academics aside, both runners should have no problem fitting in with the level of competition. Figurelli placed eighth and Schott was ninth in last year's WPIAL cross-country championships, and both were in the top three at the 2012 Westmoreland County meet.

Both have an excellent chance to end up on the medal stand in the distance events during the track season beginning later this month, and for Schott, this season at Franklin Regional is his first priority with his college decision behind him.

“I'm really excited about this season. I realize that it's my last chance, and I want to keep focusing on that and not anything in the fall,” he said. “In summer, I'll start focusing on what they do, but my focus now is on this season.”

Figurelli also is eager for her senior track season, she said, but like so many high school seniors in March, her excitement to begin the college experience is hard to hold back.

“During the summer, I want to get together with the girls on the team and run with them. It will be a lot of fun,” she said.

“I always want to be pushed even more. That next level of competition, I want that, and I want to be motivated.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or mgrubba@tribweb.com.

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