Burrell girls' depth causes foes concern
He appears to have found some nuggets.
'This freshman class ... there are no superstars, but it is just a gold mine of solid girls,' Phelps said.
Those nuggets look like they will be worth plenty to the team in the future, although some of them are contributing now.
In a meet against South Park last week, Phelps jumbled his normal lineup, using two freshmen, Lyndsey Schantz and Merilee Paga, in two relay races.
Schantz helped the 400-meter relay team win in 53.27 seconds, while Paga, running a leg of the 1,600 relay, helped guide the team to a win in 4:24.38 seconds.
At the time, both marks were tops in Class AA.
Other members of that 400 relay team are Nikki Jones, Amy Sieczkowski and Kathryn Allias.
Sieczkowski, Ashley Yohe and Jessie Witchey make up the 1,600 relay team.
Also in the South Park meet, an all-freshman relay team unofficially defeated South Park's varsity team.
Amy Younkins, Missy Dollman, Angela Purpura and Casey Wise came home in around 57 seconds, Phelps said.
'I'm in awe of some of them,' Phelps said. 'And they are not in their fastest part of their season yet. We have some freshman who could run the 400 and make the 4x400. They would be under 4:40. That would stack up against some good competition.'
The 1,600 team won the WPIAL championship last season and finished sixth in PIAAs.
'They are coming along,' Phelps said. 'If they can stay under 4:30, they should be able to compete (for the title) again. We are hoping to be able to set a WPIAL record this year, and have a chance at gold at states.
'That's our goal.'
Phelps said he needs a fourth girl to get under 63 seconds in the 1,600 and he expects something around four minutes to be the time to beat at states.
The Highlands girls team saw three school records fall in a meet against Penn Hills Tuesday.
Kristen Pastorek set a mark in the pole vault with a vault of seven feet, nine inches, Kaitlin Kapustic threw the javelin 94 feet, six inches for a record and Heidi Conroy set a standard in the shotput with a throw of 37 feet, five inches.
Springdale pole vaulter Mindy Oleson, who was third in the WPIAL and ninth in the PIAA last season, vaulted an even 10 feet in a recent meet for her best mark this season.
Oleson vaulted 9 feet, 6 inches at the WPIAL Championships last year, finishing second to Beaver's Kelly Anderson, who went 10 feet.
Oleson should make a run at the title again, but Jocelyn Lindsay of Waynesburg returns to defend her crown after vaulting a national-record 12 feet, five inches as a sophomore.
Lindsay managed a 12-0 mark at the PIAA championships, finishing second to Kim Stuyvesant of Fairview, who vaulted 12-3.
Pete Kariotis of Burrell set a school record and personal best in the 100-meter dash Monday in a home meet against Serra Catholic.
Kariotis, who going into the meet, led all Class AA Alle-Kiski Valley sprinters with a time of
11.3 seconds, ran the event in a lightning-fast 10.7 seconds.
As a measuring stick, John Sims of Center won the WPIAL AA title in 11.19 seconds last season. His qualifying time was 10.9 seconds.
The state title was won in 11.0 seconds.
The previous Burrell school record was 10.8 seconds, set by Frank Phelps, Jr. in 1984.
(A weekly look at national high school track and field records from the National Federation of High Schools Record Book.)
The national record for girls in the 100-meter dash is 11.14 seconds by Olympian Marion Jones, who ran at Thousand Oaks High in Norwalk, Calif., in 1992.
The record for boys is 9.9 seconds, set by Henry Neal of Greenville, Texas, in 1990.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for the Valley News Dispatch.