Brentwood track teams turn focus toward big-meet success
Friday, May 3, 2019 | 5:00 PM
The Brentwood girls track and field team wrapped up its section season with a 6-2 record.
“We are in the midst of a really solid season,” said coach Mike Cramer prior to the WPIAL playoffs.
Seniors Natalie Murrio, Rebecca Dirling and Quintasia Streeter and junior Mandy Race have led the way for the Spartans.
“The girls team is led by a solid group of seniors,” Cramer said. “Natalie Murrio, coming off a long, successful basketball season, has worked very hard in both the long and triple jumps. Rebecca Dirling, another hoopster, along with junior Mandy Race, have been very consistent in the throws. Rebecca has thrown 125-5 in the javelin, and Mandy has been creeping her way up through the top 16 in discus.
“Quintasia Streeter has jumped over 34 feet in the triple and 16 feet in the long and has cleared 5-1 in high jump.”
Dirling is an athletic, 5-foot-10 throwing specialist. She competes in both the javelin and discus.
“So far everything is going well,” Dirling said. “My goal has been to PR each meet and finish really well in the javelin at WPIALs.
“The team overall has done really well this season, too. Everyone seems to keep improving.”
Dirling owns a 3.8 GPA and plans to continue her track and field career at Youngstown State, where she will study dental hygiene.
Two top sprinters for the Spartans are freshman Ava Barker and sophomore Abby Czerwien.
Brentwood’s boys team hasn’t enjoyed the same success as the girls this season, but several athletes are nearing WPIAL qualification.
John Milcic, a junior, was closing in on the school record in the 110-meter high hurdles event.
“John’s bigger and stronger than he was last year and has been really working on the little things technique-wise with hurdle coach extraordinaire, Dr. (Ian) Shortt,” said Cramer, who is assisted by Shortt. “John ran 15.17 at Cal (Pa.) while winning both the 110 and 300 hurdles. He also cleared 6 feet in the high jump and won the event at the Mt. Lebanon invite in March.”
Milcic, like many Brentwood athletes, is a three-sport competitor. He is the Spartans quarterback on the football team and was a 6-foot-4 guard/forward on the basketball team this winter.
“Things are going real well in track so far,” Milcic said. “I’m competing in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, the high jump and the 4-by-4 (relay). A goal I set this year was ultimately to win WPIALs in the 110 hurdles. I at least want to finish in the top three and move on to the state level.
“We have a lot of good athletes on our team and, hopefully, they will make it to WPIALs and states, as well.”
In the 1,600 relay, Milcic teams up with three other juniors: Eddie Gomez, Ian Thomas and A.J. McPherson.
“The 1,600 relay team has a chance to make some noise in May,” Cramer said. “They are consistently in the low 3:30s.”
Brentwood plans to use the Baldwin Invitational as a tuneup for the WPIAL Class AA championships set for May 16. It gave the likes of Milcic, Gomez, Thomas and McPherson more time to practice and hone their speed and handoff techniques.
“We had a little break before Baldwin,” Cramer said. “We hoped to get their legs back a little bit, and hopefully get them to peak at the right time. All four are intrinsically motivated to win and improve. They have goals for themselves and that’s important.”
McPherson has registered a 10.8 hand-held time at several meets this season and has eclipsed 21 feet in the long jump and 41 feet in the triple jump.
He also competes in the 400 relay, along with Thomas, sophomore Aiden Wardzinski and senior Nick Czerwien. McPherson runs the anchor leg.
“That team should qualify for the WPIAL championships,” said Cramer, who also serves as an assistant in the Mt. Lebanon football program.
The veteran coach welcomed close to 60 athletes to the Brentwood track and field program at the start of the 2019 season.
“I seem to say this every year, but honestly, top to bottom, this has been one of the nicest, hardest working groups of student-athletes I have had the pleasure to coach. They are truly great kids,” Cramer said. “I give that credit to the parents. Track is a different animal. I’ve been a football coach for 17 years, and track teaches you things about yourself that other sports don’t. It’s just you on the track, or in the circle, or on the runway.
“The life lessons learned about hard work, perseverance, self-reliance, and sometimes failure, will hopefully help these kids in their other sports, in school and some day at their jobs.
“Hopefully, those lessons will translate into success at the WPIAL championships; we’re planning a trip to Shippenburg (for the state meet).”
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