Team success highlighted Baldwin track season
It was a exceptional year for the Baldwin track and field program.
Baldwin's boys team advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA finals as a section champion. The Highlanders ended up placing fourth in their division, behind Seneca Valley, North Allegheny and Norwin.
“The best part of the men's season was winning the section,” coach Ed Helbig said. “We met Mt. Lebanon and Canon-McMillan at the end of the season. We know it will always be a very competitive meet which usually decides the section championship and which teams move on into the WPIAL team playoffs.
“It was great for the men's team to win that meet, and for the women's team to beat Mt. Lebanon and also advance into the playoffs. Once you're in the playoffs, anything can happen. But the big hurdle is making them. This year, the men's team went on to make the WPIAL team finals and the women's team came within 10 points of advancing.”
The Highlanders were led by four WPIAL medalists and PIAA qualifiers in junior Nick Lachut (pole vault), seniors Dave Johnston (pole vault) and Casey Conboy (3,200), and junior Arlen Hooks (300 hurdles).
Junior Logan Richards (javelin) and sophomore Bailey O'Malley (shot put) also were WPIAL medalists.
Team members in 2017 consisted of Conboy, Zach Dunn, Johnston, Sean Kosslow, Joe McLaughlin, Tyler Morgel, Noah Wysocki, Zach Zovko, Dom Molinaro, Ummat Rizayev, Joe Bolla, Elijah Currie, Robert Hoffman, Hooks, Jeremy Jenkins, Matt Konesky, Lachut, Tony Mendez, Jack Mezeivtch, Mike Randal, Mike Starzynski, Kevin Sheehan, Vince Teahan, Jimmy Woderak, Ian Zandier, Aaron Novak, Richards, Noah Bartic, Mike Badistibner, Jason Depretis, Ethan Hoey, Jared Koenig, Luke Mondella, Bailey O'Malley, Brendan O'Malley, Lucas Perfetti, Billy Wiles, John Ziegler, Jeffrey Joyce, Shane Gilbert, John Staley, Robert Abbiatici, Paul Briones, Shayne Henchell, Noah Klodowski, Angelo Priore and Andy Degenhardt.
Johnston tied for eighth place in the pole vault event at the PIAA finals.
Baldwin's girls team finished in second in section competition and reached the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals.
The Baldwin girls were led by a trio of WPIAL medalists and PIAA qualifiers — senior Jasmine Wicks (shot put), and juniors Alina Stahl (long jump) and Laurel Bristow (shot put).
Team members this year consisted of Jessica Berger, Jessica Conley, Jordan Hoydick, Emilee Jackson, Ashley Toth, Amanda Shiflet, Amanda Wood, Wicks, Amber Yauch, Belma Pracic, Mariah Pacella, Katie Sainato, Kierstianna Ballard, Sarah Dempsey, Michaela Caratore, Stahl, Teia Swiger, Hanna Kalwarski, Emily Yosi, Corrina Pittman, Bristow, Haili Cordell, Macy Hale, Kerri Herron, Madison Seitzinger, Devon Schroeder, Mackenzie Sendao, Malia Menez, Jenna Tarson, Tori Walker, Mia Fischet, Alexis Kennard, Korin Kuss, Marlo Mendez, Hanna Stock, Victoria Tamborino and Grace Vavro.
Wicks placed seventh in the shot put at the state meet; she also competed in the discus event. Stahl corralled eighth place in the long jump at states.
Lachut and Johnston stole the show for Baldwin at the WPIAL championships, finishing first and second in the pole vault event. Lachut won the WPIAL title by clearing 14 feet, 9 inches, followed by Johnston at 14-6.
It was only the second time in school history the Highlanders took first and second place in the boys pole vault event at the WPIAL finals.
Dave Klueber, Baldwin's pole vault coach, and Paul Paulson finished first and second in the event in 1992, clearing heights of 14-6 and 14-0, respectively.
“We have had tremendous support from our administration and our athletic director in allowing us to set up a pole vault pit in the school gym to practice indoors when the weather doesn't allow us to go outside,” said Klueber following Lachut's and Johnston's performance at the WPIAL finals. “This, and Nick and Dave both practicing and pushing each other all season, led to that great showing of placing first and second in the WPIAL this year.
“The pole vault is a funny event. When you start to figure things out and do things correctly, big jumps in heights usually happen. In Nick's case, he finally put everything together at just the right time.”
Stahl, Hooks and Conboy ended up in third at the WPIAL meet in the long jump, 300 hurdles and 3,200, respectively.
Stahl, West Virginia soccer commit, has qualified for the state meet for three consecutive years. As a freshman, she competed in the 100 and 400 relay. As a sophomore, she advanced in the 100, 400 and 400 relay.
Hooks made a big jump at the WPIAL finals from his sophomore to junior seasons, improving from 21st to third in the intermediate hurdles.
Wicks was a double medalist at the WPIAL meet, placing fourth in the shot put and fifth in the discus. Bristow garnered sixth in the shot put.
Bailey O'Malley and Richards placed seventh in the shot put and javelin, respectively.
Baldwin also was represented by the following at the WPIAL championships:
BOYS — Hooks (110 hurdles), sophomore Brendan O'Malley (200, 400), junior Jack Mezeivtch (3,200), sophomore Mike Starzynski (high jump) and Lachut (long jump).
GIRLS — Stahl (100, 200), sophomore Macy Hale (800), senior Amanda Shiflet (high jump, triple jump), senior Jordan Hoydick (pole vault), senior Amber Yauch (long jump, triple jump) and Bristow (discus, javelin).
Baldwin's 1,600 and 3,200 relay squads were WPIAL finalists.
The 1,600 relayers consisted of (boys) Hooks, Lachut, Brendan O'Malley and Conboy; and (girls) Victoria Tamborino, Makenzie Shandor, Stahl and Hale.
The 3,200 relayers were (boys) Noah Wysocki, Mezeivtch, Zack Zovko and Conboy; and (girls) Shandor, Kerri Herron, Hale and Devon Schroeder.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.