Franklin Regional track teams build foundation for future

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Saturday, May 28, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Franklin Regional track and field coach Bob Ralston has been dealing with a sprained ankle, but it didn’t stop him from leading the Panthers at the WPIAL Class 3A Championship meet at Slippery Rock.

The Panthers did not have any PIAA qualifiers, but several athletes performed as well as they could in tough conditions.

It was a growing experience for a young group. Only two seniors competed in the district finals for the Panthers.

“The weather once again was not good,” Ralston said. “Our boys and girls 4-by-8s, boys 4-by-1 and boys 4-by-4 all performed about the same as the last couple weeks.

“It was actually a good run for them to be around their best since it was cold and raining during their races.”

Noah Reese, Nick Rupnik and Eryk Ralston ran personal bests in the relays, Ralston said.

Top finishers for the Panthers included Alexandria Hartman (sixth in 100-meter hurdles), Sierra Todero (seventh, triple jump) and Nick Provenzo (14th, 800).

Jack Silvis tied for 10th in the pole vault, while Andrew Nesler was 14th in the shot put.

“Our high jumpers had a rough day; it’s hard to high jump in rain with slick conditions,” Ralston said. “This is the first year with me as coach that someone didn’t make states, but we never had a team this young before.”

Ralston said Silvis, a freshman, was the biggest surprise.

“He came out of nowhere to make WPIALs,” Ralston said. “I didn’t even know who he was yet halfway through the season. He wasn’t one of our top three vaulters and wasn’t making the early invitationals. He kept working hard at practices and added two feet to his vaults to get into the championships, then he added another six inches at Slippery Rock for a 11-9 personal-best vault.

“The overall performance of the group was positive. About half of our WPIAL competitors were ninth and 10th graders, so they have a few seasons to grow and I expect all of them plus more to make it back next year.”

A bonus for Ralston was getting the opportunity coach his son, Eryk.

“It was nice to watch him grow into our third-highest point scorer this season,” the coach said. “We have a strong 10th grade group, and I’m excited to see how much they develop over the next two years.

“I also like the fact that 17 out of the top 20 point scorers will return for the boys next season. With the girls team, 18 out of our top 20 point scorers are coming back next season.”

A solid incoming freshmen class also could make a fast impact next spring.

“Overall, I anticipate both teams being better than they were this year,” Ralston said.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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