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Mt. Pleasant track team excited for state finals

Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Mt. Pleasant Area High School's Julia Novotny competes in the Class AA javelin throw at the WPIAL Track and Field Championships at Baldwin School on Thursday May 17, 2012.

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By Jason Black

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012, 12:33 a.m.

A sure sign that the Mt. Pleasant track program is becoming one of the strongest in the area is the fact that the Vikings will be represented in seven events during Friday and Saturday's PIAA Class AA track and field championships at Shippensburg University.

“I'm excited about where our program is,” Mt. Pleasant track coach Shawn Thompson said. “We have two seniors going to states, and the rest are underclassmen.”

The two seniors who will be competing in their final high school event this weekend are Taylor Nitkiewicz and Julia Novotny.

Novotny, who will run track at Wheeling Jesuit University, will compete in the javelin (14th seed) and the 400 (15th seed) on Saturday. She took third in the 400 (59.55) and fourth in the javelin (122-6) in the WPIAL finals.

“The javelin will be a stretch, but she ran her personal best in the 400 and she'll still have to run around a .58 to medal,” Thompson said. “But I wouldn't bet against her.”

Novotny is also part of the 400 relay team that includes junior Kylie Hissem, sophomores Jordan Toohey and Bria Rogers and freshman Kasey Brown (alternate). The preliminaries for the 400 relay will be run Friday, with the final eight advancing to the medal race Saturday. After taking first at the WPIAL Class AA championships last week with a time of 49.86, the quartet is seeded sixth heading into the state meet. Novotny, Hissem, Toohey and Rogers made it to states in the relay last year, but didn't place. The goals are much higher this time around.

“They have a good shot (to medal),” Thompson said. “I like where we are at with that team. I don't think they're happy just to get there. Our goal is to be running on Saturday. They are confident.”

Like Novotny, Nitkiewicz will be competing in multiple events. Nitkiewicz, who will play basketball at St. Vincent College, will finish her track career by taking part in the long jump Friday and triple jump Saturday. Nitkiewicz placed eighth in the triple jump as a sophomore and will be making her third trip to the state meet. She is seeded 28th in both the long jump and triple jump. At the WPIAL finals, Nitkiewicz took fourth in the triple jump (34-06) and fifth in the long jump (15-101⁄2).

“I just think of it as a big honor to be there,” Nitkiewicz said. “I'm excited about it, and I'm going to go there and have fun with it.”

Sophomore Tyler Kolar and freshman Alexa Szelong will each be making their first trip to the state meet and both will compete in the pole vault Friday.

“I think Tyler has a really good shot (to medal) in the pole vault, and I think Alexa will have to jump around 10 feet and she is right there,” Thompson said.

Szelong is seeded 25th after finishing fifth at the WPIAL finals with a jump of 9-9. Kolar took second at the WPIAL finals with a height of 14-0. He is seeded ninth, but shares the fourth-best qualifying height with five other athletes.

“I want to go out there and do better than I did at WPIALs,” Kolar said. “I just want to improve every meet. I want to take in the experience because there will be a lot of good athletes there and I want to see how I compare. My goal is 14-6, but I'd be happy with 14-3.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-626-3534.



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