With an abundance of senior leadership, the Pittston Area High School girls track and field team expects to be a stronger group this season, and improve on its 4-3 record from last year.
The Lady Patriots boast a roster with eight seniors who have taken on the responsibility of showing their younger teammates the ropes.
"We're definitely going to do better than last year," said head coach Joe Struckus. "We've been practicing very well. Pretty much all (the) seniors have taken charge of the group, helping the younger ones."
Struckus said last year's group also tried to help the underclassmen, but because there were only four seniors, they were limited to what they could do.
"It's a lot easier when there's a bigger group. Last year, they were all jumpers, too, all the seniors, so it was kind of tough," said Struckus.
This year's group of seniors - Bianca Bolton, Howrasha Bryan, Madeline Dworak, Samantha Horchos, Ashley Menichini, Rachele Poveromo, Shelby Shimkoski and Emily Zera - are spread out among several events, to help offer guidance to a number of underclassmen.
Struckus said, in addition to the advice and experience provided by the seniors, the Lady Patriots have a talented group of underclassmen who create a competitive atmosphere in practice.
"We have a lot of young freshmen and sophomores and they're pushing the seniors and juniors, which is benefiting everybody," said Struckus.
Among the freshmen new to the team this year, Stuckus said Liz Waleski, who competes in the long jump, 100 and 300 hurdles, and Olivia Giambra, who competes in the long jump and triple jump, could have a good season.
"We're going to be strong in the jumps; the jumpers we have are very strong this year. We're also going to be strong in the hurdles. We have three very good hurdlers and distance should be a strong point," said Struckus.
Hurdlers on this year's team include Waleski, Olivia Lanza and Rhiannan Avvisto; jumpers include Cales Owens, Olivia Giambra, Waleski and Samantha Horchos; distance runners include Catherine Lombardo and Bianca Bolton.
The team competed in its first meet on March 27, losing, 103-47, at Dallas. Even though the girls didn't come home with a victory, Stuckus was happy with what he saw.
"It was a loss, but everyone competed and that was the main goal," he said. "We competed against them. If we had them at the end of the year, we would have faired much better against them."
The Lady Patriots will look to improve to 1-1 on Tuesday, April 3 when they take on Wyoming Valley West at home.
April 3 WYOMING VALLEY WEST
April 10 CRESTWOOD
April 17 at Coughlin
April 24 BERWICK
May 1 at Hazleton Area
May 8 at Tunkhannock