Out of the gates
The Southmoreland boys track team is striving for yet another successful season in 2007, while the Lady Scotties are trying to overcome some injuries to stay in the thick of the Section 4-AA race.
"As always, we're starting out with the goal of winning the section," boys coach Bill Schrecengost said.
He said that the Scotties have taken the crown several times over the last decade, including last season, and they've also been successful on an individual basis.
"We've been fortunate enough the last few years to compete real well at the WPIAL level," he said. "I'd like to see us do well there because we have some good individuals."
Schrecengost said Southmoreland's boys team will be led by 13 seniors.
"That's always big for us, to have that core of leadership," he said. "I emphasize that, actually."
Among those seniors are the team's three captains, all of whom Schrecengost said the team will count on for consistent points.
"Our three captains are Kevin Hagerman, who returns in the triple jump, javelin and sprints; Jimmy King, who runs the intermediate and high hurdles; and Ben Poorbaugh, who we're counting on in the field events and discus," Schrecengost said.
Schrecengost said seniors Bill Geyer and Michael Coleman should contribute, as well, and though one Scottie will be missed on and off the track, his younger brother could make his mark this season.
"If we had Chris Kiefer with us this year, we would definitely be challenging for a WPIAL championship," Schrecengost said.
Chris Kiefer was killed in a car accident in November, but his brother, sophomore Kory Kiefer, will run for Southmoreland this season.
"Kory is going to be good for us in the sprints," Schrecengost said.
In addition, freshmen Tyler Vivio and Justin Najewicz are already showing some talent.
Southmoreland girls track coach Chuck Brittain said the Lady Scotties also return some experienced athletes this season, but in a section as strong as theirs, "You never know from year to year how things are going to go."
Brittain said several of Southmoreland's girls have sustained injuries while competing in other sports, meaning that some newcomers will be expected to jump in and help out right away. But they won't be without some veteran leadership.
"Stephanie Wiltrout has been with me since she was in seventh grade," Brittain said. "She's one of our captains, and she'll lead the distance runners."
Fellow senior Brianna Conty set a record in the sprints last year, and she returns to the team as well. Junior Jamie Henry will be a key member of the Lady Scotties' relay teams, and WPIAL qualifier Rachel Mast, a senior, returns in the throwing events, as do Katie Lash and Stephanie Lindsay.
"(Junior) Brittani Eicher hopefully will improve in the hurdles. She did well as a freshman, but she was ill last year and got a slow start," Brittain said. "(Senior) Vanessa Abel is out for us this year. She came out as a freshman and then sat out for two years. Hopefully, she'll help us out this year, and we have some sophomores and freshmen who might help."
Both coaches list Burrell, Greensburg Central Catholic and Mt. Pleasant among the top section opponents, but Brittain said it's hard to say what will happen down the road.
"With our section, you don't know until you get a chance to see some people," he said.
Southmoreland will open the season on March 23 at Franklin Regional.