Valley Speedsters enjoy banner season
For the Valley Speedsters, the 2014 season was one of breaking records.
Corinn Brewer, 10, of Fellsburg, broke a 20-year state record for her age group by running the 1,500 meter race in 5:24.
Isaiah Melvin broke the regional record in the 80-meter hurdles, in a time of 12.7 seconds. The region includes Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.
And that was even before 16 members of the Valley-wide track and field team headed to the national championships July 21-27 in Houston, Texas.
The U.S. Track and Field (USATF) Junior Olympic Track and Field National Championships are held by the same governing body which sends athletes to the Summer Olympics every four years.
Athletes as young as 5 compete, in the age groups of 8 and under and then every two years up to 17-18 year olds.
The local track team competes on three levels. The Three Rivers Association championships were June 21-22 at California University of Pennsylvania. The Three Rivers Association takes in the western half of the state. The top six finishers in each event advance to the regional level.
Region II, one of 16 regions, was held July 10-13 at Stockton College, N.J. The top five finishers in each event advanced to the nationals, held at Humble Stadium in Houston.
There are actually two national meets. At Houston, athletes advanced by finishing among the top finishers in their event or events.
At Bloomington, Ind., a national event is held for athletes who meet a specific standard, regardless of placement. Melvin attended that event, finishing second in the hurdles and fifth in the 400-meter run.
At Houston, Patrick Brewer, 12, of Fellsburg, finished eighth in the high jump
“It was another strong season with a lot of hard work,” Coach Mike Brewer said. “The kids really support each other. That's what it takes to compete in the hot summer.”
Some speedsters have already moved on to success at the college level. Matt Green was a two-time PIAA long jump champion at Belle Vernon Area before taking his talents to Robert Morris University's football team. Jessica Slagus was a javelin standout for the Lady Leps before moving on to Seton Hill.
Brewer said he also sees some future high school and collegiate stars competing for the Speedsters. Brenna Cavanaugh of Bentleyville will be a freshman in the fall. But her 100-meter time of 12.25 seconds in a meet this year would have earned her the PIAA Class AA title in the event.
“She's a phenom,” Brewer said. “She's going to be a star as a freshman at Bentworth.”
Aiden Brewer, 14, of Fellsburg, had the second fastest time in the 1,500 meters among pentathletes in the national competition. He also competed in the pole vault at the nationals.
Sydney Baciak, 12, of Rostraver Township, qualified for the nationals in an unprecedented four events – the pentathlon, 80-meter hurdles, high jump and long jump.
Other Speedsters who competed on the national level included the following Valley youths:
• Hunter Basista, 16, Washington Township, high jump.
• Tyler Boff, 17, Rostraver Township, 2000-meter steeplechase.
• Grant Brewer, 6, of Fellsburg, 1500 meters.
• James Brewer, 8, of Fellsburg, javelin.
• Gianna Gaul, 17, Rostraver Township, discus, hammer.
• Grace Henderson, Rostraver Township, 12, high jump.
• Emma Lucas, 17, Charleroi, pole vault.
• Collin Pallotta, 14, Rostraver Township, javelin.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.