Keystone Oaks track returning batch of talent
If the South Hills Classic is any indication of future success, Keystone Oaks track and field could be in store for a strong season.
The Golden Eagles had several strong finishes in an event featuring some of the best athletes from AAA and AA.
“We have a pretty nice group of guys and ladies,” Keystone Oaks Felix Yerace said. “When we went to the Classic, I thought we did well considering the cold conditions. I am anxious to get everything going.”
The girls team is looking for a strong season after returning several WPIAL qualifiers. Selena Canello will be competitive in sprinting events. The sophomore finished in fourth in both the 100- and 200-meter dash at the South Hills Classic.
In distance events, Lauren Ragan will compete in the 1,600 – the junior finished sixth at the South Hills Classic with a time of 5:59.11. Diana Tallon will also run in the event.
“Victoria Schmotzer finished seventh in the 800 at the Classic,” Yerace said. “She ran a heck of a race. We are looking for her to progress.”
Madison Morrow will compete in the hurdles.
The girls squad are looking at having strong relay teams after the 4x800 relay team – including Jenny Murtha, Laura Ragan, Kara Hoffman, Jessie Porter and Schmotzer – finished in second at the Classic with a time off 11:12.26. The 4x100 squad – ran by Hayley Frederik, Kara Hoffman, Jessie Port and Canello – finished in fourth with a time of 55.11.
Danielle Super will lead Keystone Oaks in the field events. The junior finished first in the high jump with a leap of 4-08.00 at the South Hills Classic. She also finished ninth in the pole vault with a leap of 7-06.00.
Keystone Oaks will have a wealth of talent in the field with Hayley Frederick competing in the long jump and three throwers who can compete in multiple events in Emily Kalanish, Madison Grogan and Erica Ragan. Ragan finished in second in the javelin with a throw of 104-03.00 while Kalanish took fourth in the shot put with a throw of 32-04.00
The boys team is looking for increased results after dropping to Class AA after competing in Class AAA in recent seasons.
“We are very happy about being in AA,” Yerace said. “It didn't help us. It might take awhile to get the word out to other men in the school that if they join, they won't end the year going against the big schools. I think there is no question it had an impact.
“Since we moved down in girls, we have attracted more athlete and seen success.”
Brian Hazel will be a strong athlete for the Golden Eagles, After qualifying for WPIALs in the shot put last season, the senior will compete in the throwing events this season. He finished with a toss of 43-10.00 at the South Hills Classic.
“He did well last year,” Yerace said. “We were in AAA and if we had been in AA, he and (then senior) Chris Grecek could have moved on and done more.”
Keystone Oaks will gave a group of throwers to work with including Christian Forrisi, Nathan Galas and Michael Lydon.
Conor Tokarsky and Joe Amadio will compete in jumping events.
In the track competition, Amadio and Ryan Tarr will fill in a sprinters while Brian Brosnan and Nick Conrad will compete in distance events.
“Brosnan has been running the mile and has a good chance of doing something for us,” Yerace said. “I am looking for a couple of surprises. I think a couple of our throwers have been doing well.
“We have people that if they keep progressing, they will be right there.”
While Yerace said he has different goals for each team, the season's success ultimately lies on getting several athletes to the PIAA Class AA championships in Shippensburg.
“If we can get a winning record with the boys, get a couple of them to the championship and medal to move onto states, that would be pretty successful,” Yerace said. “For the girls, I would like us to get to the team semifinals and get a few of them to move onto states, especially in a relay.
“We were really close last year in the 4x800.”