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Provenzo named MVP for Franklin Regional track

| Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 10:06 p.m.
Franklin Regional's Mark Provenzo sprints to a first place finish in the 1600 meter run at the Lady Wildcat/Hempfield Spartan Invitational on Saturday April 08. 2017, in Latrobe.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Mark Provenzo sprints to a first place finish in the 1600 meter run at the Lady Wildcat/Hempfield Spartan Invitational on Saturday April 08. 2017, in Latrobe.

Franklin Regional coach Bob Ralston marvelled about Mark Provenzo's athletic accomplishments following the recent PIAA track and field finals.

Provenzo, a senior at Franklin Regional, broke one of the oldest school records at the state meet time of 9 minutes, 16.42 seconds in the 3,200-meter run, placing ninth in the event. The record had been held by Brian Grimm since 1983.

And the Panthers' 3,200-meter relayers — Provenzo, Matt Busche, Jacob Hnath and Zane Flynn — re-set their own school record with a 7:53.99 performance. Led by Provenzo, who ran in the No. 1 position, the 3,200 relayers shattered the school record multiple times this season.

“Mark Provenzo showed why he's the greatest Franklin Regional runner of all time by running a 9:16 in the 3,200, then quickly coming back for a 1:57 split in the 4-by-8,” Ralston said. “Mark has a dedication to running like I have never seen before. His weekly workout sheet is his Bible. He does not stray from it, and absolutely nothing gets in his way of completing it 100 percent — the way it is supposed to be done.

“It's hard to understand what I mean when I say the workout is like his Bible. There have been times when I screamed at him to stop running for a minute, and he absolutely ignores me, and then will come back later and ask, ‘What did you want?' Stopping to talk to me would have messed up his workout, so like I said, nothing got in his way.”

Provenzo won a WPIAL boys cross country championship in the fall, and owns three Franklin Regional track records (1,600, 3,200, 3,200 relay). He broke the school record in the 1,600 this year with a 4:22..88 time at the Butler Invitational. Mike Hall had held the mark since 1980.

The dedicated trackster also was the county champion in the 1,600-meter run as a senior, and won multiple gold medals at area invitationals. Provenzo was named MVP of the Panthers' track team.

“He's done it all,” Ralston said. “Running is his focus. The other athletes on the team have many different activities, sports, and clubs that they (spend) their energy on.

“Mark's main focus is to be the greatest runner he can be. His mentality is perfect for distance running.”

Although a dynamic distance runner, Provenzo nevertheless owns a “team-first” mentality.

“Mark turned down the captain position because he knew he would be on his own a lot,” Ralston said. “He was warmed up and ready to practice before most of the team was on the track. He already had his workouts for the week, so he would start as soon as he was ready.”

Provenzo received a scholarship from Duquesne University, where he plans to continue an already distinguished career.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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