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Reilly, Stewart seek return to states

| Friday, March 18, 2005

Youth and inexperience will dominate the Apollo-Ridge track and field team in 2005.

With Vikings returning eight seniors and "at most seven" juniors on the boys and girls teams, head coach Matt Curci is still trying "figuring where kid's strengths are."

"We are still trying to find out what everyone is good at," Curci said. " We have a lot of young kids and we don't know what a lot of kids can do. We have a lot of new faces. A lot of freshman."

One key returner is Lauren Reilly, who finished third in the WPIAL in the 800 meter run as a junior. Along with Reilly is Michelle Gentile, who was a hurdler for the Lady Vikings last season but may move to middle distance running.

The boys have last season's pole vault champion returning. Chris Stewart vaulted 13 feet during the WPIAL finals to earn a first place tie with Buddy Rose from Chartiers-Houston.

"He will be a strong point for us," Curci said.

With such a limited group of seniors, the junior class has taken on the leadership role for the underclassmen, Curci said.

"We have a nice group of junior boys who are growing into leaders," he said.

This season seems to be another rebuilding year for the Vikings. With the program getting more interest, he is getting more athletes to compete in a very tough section.

"The numbers are starting to climb. It is a positive for the program," Curci said. "We have good interest from the kids who want to come out and work hard.

"I am excited. I really enjoy the group we have. I couldn't have asked for any more effort the kids have given."

Apollo-Ridge finds itself in a section with teams that consists of two-time WPIAL Class AA champion Freeport, Valley and Ford City.

"We have a tough conference," Curci said. "We have perennial teams that are outstanding. Nobody is easy. Just the whole conference from top to bottom is tough."

Apollo-Ridge opens its season with Blairsville and Saltsburg on March 24.

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