Pittston Area’s girls track and field team have been accustomed to competing for a league title the past several seasons. This year it’s no different.
The Patriots welcome back many returning district medal winners, including several who qualified for the state championships a year ago. However, Pittston Area will also have to overcome the loss of key components to last year’s lineup.
The Patriots lost a handful of successful athletes from last season to graduation, including four-time state qualifier Olivia Giambra in the long jump and triple jump. Also, runner Allie Barber and Liz Waleski graduated, leaving holes in several relay teams. Mia Cain, a state qualifier in the high jump, also graduated.
With that, the Patriots welcome back a team that will compete for a Wyoming Valley Conference championship again this season. Pittston Area was last year 6-1 and finished second in the WVC to Dallas. At districts, Dallas proved to be too much with the Patriots again coming in second place.
Seniors Sam Mayers, Madison Mimnaugh and Tara Johnson will lead the team after qualifying for states in last year’s 4×800 relay with Waleski. Mimnaugh is a district champion in the 400 and 800 runs. Johnson plays a key role in many events and is a district champion in cross country.
Pittston Area coach Joseph Struckus calls Mayers a “workhorse” and “will do anything we put her in from the 400 to the 3,200.”
Veteran sprinter Jamie Chisdock, a senior, will be the anchor of a young 4×100 team.
Also back for the Patriots this season is state-qualifying javelin thrower Taryn Ashby. Struckus said Ashby has started working on her long jump while splitting time with softball.
In the high jump, Pittston Area has Abbie Sheerer, who finished in fourth place at last season’s district championships.
“(Abbie) has been working hard all off season to improve that standing and is also the team’s best triple jumper,” Struckus said.
Senior Iana Davis returns to the team as a former district medal winner in the shot put. She’ll be joined by multi-sport athlete Marley O’Brien, who is entering her second season as a field athlete. She has improved on her javelin throws and shot put. She’ll also compete in the discus.
Joining Davis and O’Brien in the field will be senior Kayla Miller. Struckus said his team will find its strengths in mid-distance and distance events.
“There is a lot of talent and experience in these events,” he said. “The throwers will also be a strength this year.”
With only Sheerer, junior Sydney Williams and senior Molly Walsh returning with district experience, the Patriots will be inexperience in the jumping events. Struckus said the young group is learning and improving every day.
In the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1, Pittston Area will be fighting with Hazleton Area and Dallas for division supremacy.
“We are looking to once again be a contender for the Wyoming Valley Conference title and make a run at districts,” Struckus said.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick