HAZLETON – Pittston Area used its dominance of the distance events to establish a lead, then held on Wednesday to escape from Hazleton Area with a 77-73 victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 girls track and field opener conducted under extremely windy conditions.
Tara Johnson led the way, with the help from Sam Mayers, as the Patriots outscored the Cougars, 28-4, in the three longest races of the day – the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter runs – and the 3200-meter relay.
“We had the kids prepared to make sure they had layers of clothes; we told them that the day before,” Pittston Area coach Joe Struckus said. “… You can’t really go off times. You go out there and gut it out and see what happens.
“It’s hard to when you’ve been practicing in this warm weather and you’re not used to going out there and getting hammered with the wind and the cold.”
The conditions also disrupted meet management and compilation of results, leaving a few anxious moments when Hazleton Area started piling up points late, including winning the closing 1600 relay and taking the top two spots in the high jump to cut 13 points from the margin.
“The thought the meet was just about wrapped up at that point,” Struckus said. “Those things scared us a little bit.
“I didn’t think it was going to be as close.”
Johnson made sure the Patriots had enough to get through the meet, which matched last year’s second- (Pittston Area) and third-place teams (Hazleton Area) behind Dallas in the standings.
The senior got the season started by running the leadoff led of the winning 3200 relay, then won the 1600 meters by 17 seconds in 5:41 and took the 3200 by 54 seconds in 12:22.
“It was an awesome day,” Struckus said. “Her workload is going to depend on the meet.
“Against Hazleton Area, we knew she was going to have to do the mile (1600), the two (3200 meters) and the 3200 relay. They have a very good distance program coming in.”
Mayers completed the distance sweep, winning the 800-meter run and taking second to Johnson in the 1600 after anchoring the 3200-meter relay win.
Maddy Mimnaugh was also on the relay then took second in the 800, as well as the 400.
Arianna Boccardi completed the relay lineup and took third-place in both the 1600 and 3200.
Hazleton Area won 10 of the 18 events, but Pittston Area gained enough second- and third-place points to finish on top.
Abby Norwillo (pole vault), Abbie Sheerer (triple jump) and Iana Davis (shot put) had the other individual event wins for Pittston Area. The 400-meter relay with the team of Jenna Smith, Jessica Tighe, Mia Barbieri and Jamie Chisdock also won.
“The sprinters definitely came along,” Struckus said. “They did a good job as a young group.”
Norwillo surpassed her season best of a year ago, clearing 10 feet, then taking a shot at the school record of 10-6.
Wyoming Area 111, Nanticoke 31
Shelby Stackhouse won four events – the 100-meter hurdles, long jump, high jump and pole vault – as Wyoming Area routed visiting Nanticoke, 111-31, Thursday to open defense of its Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 title.
Vanessa Shedlock won the 400-meter dash and triple jump while also running a leg of the winning 1600 relay.
Jillian Spak, who won the 300 hurdles, and Bree Bednarski, who won the 200-meter dash, were each part of the winning 400-meter relay.