Franklin Regional athletes cap year with school records
The Franklin Regional track and field team was a star-studded group at this year's PIAA Class AAA championships.
Every athlete from FR who advanced to the state meet either set or holds a school record.
“Time-wise, most of the athletes were where we expected them to be (at the state meet),” coach Bob Ralston said. “The goal was for somebody to get in the top eight and bring home a medal. We had three people get ninth, and that was frustrating yet funny at the same time. We had a lot of fun with it.
“The (boys 3,200) relay finished 11th, but we had Matt Busche ease up the last 200 because eighth was out of reach and he had his 800 coming up. We probably could have gotten close to ninth there, too.”
Three new school records were established at the state finals held May 26-27 at Shippensburg University.
Senior Mark Provenzo broke a record held by Brian Grimm since 1983. Provenzo posted a 9:16.42 in the 3,200, placing ninth.
Busche, a junior, lowered his own school record in the 800 in 1:54.92, also good for ninth.
And the Panthers' 3,200 relayers — Provenzo, Busche, sophomore Jacob Hnath and senior Zane Flynn — re-set their own school record with a 7:53.99.
Franklin Regional's three other state qualifiers were juniors Tyrese Kohlman (200), Jacob Shedd (triple jump) and Sterling Simek (800).
Kohlman helped set the school record (44.1) last year in the boys 400 relay. Shedd tied the school record this season in the triple jump (45-7.5). Simek broke her school record in the 800 in 2:17.04 at the WPIAL finals.
“Sterling broke the 800 school record for the third time,” said Ralston following the WPIAL meet. “She might just be the hardest-working athlete I've ever coached. She is constantly analyzing every practice and looking for the smallest things she can improve on to better her time.”
Shedd, a tight end/defensive end on the Panthers' football team, placed ninth in the triple jump at the state meet, clearing 44-2.5. He previously tied the school record at the WPIAL finals with a leap of 45-7.5, which was a personal-best by eight inches.
The 3,200 relayers shattered the school record multiple times this season, and Ralston offered high praise to Provenzo and his teammates.
“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. “Zane Flynn also ran a 1:57, his best by two seconds. I told him beforehand that this race would be how I remembered him; I guess he wanted me to have a good memory. Jacob Hnath again was very reliable and had a 2-flat split.
“Our jumping (at states) was not good this year overall. Nobody got near their PR in the distances for the boys and girls long jump and triple jump. They were much shorter than expected. And Jacob Shedd did not get near his best jump but still managed to finish ninth.”
The future appears bright for the Franklin Regional track and field program. A host of FR athletes advanced to this year's WPIAL championships; many were freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
Along with Simek, senior Sarah Semen (pole vault), sophomore Shelby Cooper (pole vault), senior Kassidy Hubert (long jump), junior Julia Petrucci (triple jump), senior Emily Valentine (shot put) and sophomore Tiffany Jolayemi (discus) were WPIAL finalists in the girls competition.
For the FR boys team, Provenzo, Busche, Kohlman, Shedd, senior Tanner Stark (300 hurdles), junior Mike Bartolacci (110 hurdles), sophomore Jaden Semen (pole vault) and senior Adam Farbarik (javelin) were finalists.
And, along with the 3,200 relayers, the Panthers' 1,600 relay unit, consisting of Stark, Flynn, Busche and senior Rodrick Gamwo, advanced to the WPIAL meet.
Franklin Regional's girls 400 and 3,200 relay units also qualified.
Two freshmen, Maddy Arnette and Sela Cherpko, and two sophomores, Julia Scagline and Makenna Grieco, were the 400 relay contestants.
Juniors Calla Solomon and Julia Pertucci, freshman Brooke Busche and Simek made up the 3,200 relay unit.
“We have top athletes returning on both sides, “ Ralston said. “There are some events that we will need to build back up, and there are some spots open for someone new in the relays.
“We definitely have a number of good athletes returning. There are a few key positions that will need to be filled, so hopefully we get a few more top athletes from others sports and clubs to join the team next year.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.