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Burrell's Kariotis sprinting to top

| Sunday, April 15, 2001

The heavy rains last Monday night held off long enough for Burrell senior Pete Kariotis to run the 100-meter race at his home track.

Then, he kicked up a little wind of his own.

Kariotis blew away his former personal best of 11.13 seconds with a 10.7 dash, setting a school record and giving him reason to think he can compete with the top sprinters in WPIAL Class AA.

'That was pretty nice,' Kariotis said. 'I didn't expect that. The only thing I could have improved was my start. I had room for improvement. Other than that, it was perfect.'

Burrell boys track coach Bob Kariotis, Pete's father, also was surprised by the time. It broke the mark of 10.8 set by Frank Phelps Jr. in 1984.

'He blew us away,' Bob Kariotis said. 'It was right before the storm hit. The conditions were optimum. He ripped a nice start and ran really smooth. It was a really great run.

'We were targeting him 11.1 or 11.0 this year, a natural progression. He grew a little bit. The sprint time was edging down, then, he had a phenomenal run that day.'

Kariotis' best run this season had been 11.3. By way of comparison, John Sims of Center won the WPIAL Class AA championship with a time of 11.19 last year. His qualifying time had been 10.9. The winning time in the PIAA finals was 11.0.

Kariotis was not in Class AA a year ago. Burrell dropped down after spending the past few seasons competing in Class AAA.

'In the 100 meters, he was lost in the crowd,' Bob Kariotis said. 'When you are at the WPIAL finals in Class AAA, a lot of kids can run 11.2 or 11.3.'

The strong sprint made Pete Kariotis believe he has a better shot to compete for gold in the 100 meters. He had considered the long jump or triple jump as his best hopes.

'I want to win a gold medal in the WPIAL championships,' Pete Kariotis said. 'I figured it would be the long jump or triple jump, but maybe now in the 100. It would be great. I couldn't (win a championship) in soccer, so maybe in track. I have one more chance to be a champion.'

Kariotis has run track since he was a very young, but his most notable high school success came in the other sport he's been playing most of his life - soccer.

Kariotis was a four-year starter, four-time all-section pick and two-time All-WPIAL selection in soccer, finishing his career with exactly 100 goals. He racked up his 16th career hat trick in his final game, a regular-season contest against Valley, to get there.

'My 100 goals is my most memorable moment, especially scoring the hat trick to get it,' Kariotis said.

Kariotis signed a letter of intent last week to play soccer at California (Pa.). He also will run track there.

Kariotis also had an offer to be a kicker and punter in football at Thiel. He made 37 of 40 extra points and four of six field goals in two years as the varsity kicker for Burrell. He had a net average of 31 yards as a punter this past season.

Niagara also recruited Kariotis for soccer and provided the chance to play Division I, Cal being a Division II school, but did not offer track and has a struggling program.

'I'm a soccer player,' Kariotis said. 'That's really how it is. (Cal) has my major (sports management) and is a good soccer team. Niagara was a little far from home and had no track team.'

Kariotis is one of the top competitors on a rebuilding Burrell track team. The Bucs were a powerhouse in the '80s through the mid-'90s but struggled with the move to Class AAA.

Senior Casey Cochran is also a top competitor, mostly in the pole vault, where he has a personal best of 11 feet, 6 inches. Burrell's third senior captain is its top distance runner, Jon Carson.

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