Huss, mile relayers continue success of Derry’s ‘400 club’

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Thursday, May 23, 2019 | 3:06 PM


Justin Huss said being a part of the “400 Club” at Derry is a significant honor, one that nobody in the track and field program takes lightly.

If you can excel in running 400 meters, you’ll surely fall into favor with coach Mark Curcio.

“The 400 is my favorite race to compete in,” Huss said. “I always work hard so I can run the best times I can.”

Huss and a few teammates will compete Friday and Saturday at the PIAA Class AA track and field championships at Shippensburg, and they’ll do so in their premier events — the 400-meter run and boys’ 1,600-meter relay.

Derry football coach Tim Sweeney would enjoy Curcio’s correlation. Sweeney has seen Huss gain yards but knows he can shed meters, too.

“Penn State is known as Linebacker U because of its ability to develop NFL-ready linebackers,” Curcio said. “When it comes to track and field, Derry Area might be known as 400 High.”

Since Curcio took over in 2012, the Trojans have had a 400 runner or 1,600 relay qualify every year for the WPIAL meet and has had state qualifiers in one or other the last three seasons.

“Although Derry has had a good recent history in the girls’ throws as well, the 4-by-400 teams have developed somewhat of a legacy,” Curcio said, “almost to the point where its an honor to be on it and you want to make history on it.”

Since 2012, Curcio said the boys’ school record in the individual 400 has been broken three times — by Andrew Downey, Will Huss and Justin Huss this year. Justin Huss will be the No. 6 seed at the state meet, where he’ll compete for a third straight spring.

“Our coach has been doing a good job at training us at practice,” Huss said. “He always makes us work hard and push ourselves so we can be the best we can be. Also, he makes the practices hard, so it makes the 400 easier in the meet. Another thing is that he works on our running technique so when it comes to the end of the race our running form can help us.”

A smile curls on Curcio’s face when people ask him if there are any up-and-coming 400 runners coming up from the middle school level.

“I’m honored to hear questions like that because it means that the team has an identity on the track,” the coach said. “And other teams, the community, and the athletes themselves have to respect it.

“I wanted to develop a 400 tradition at Derry because my philosophy is that a solid 4-by-400 team is a good representation of your team as a whole. Why? A 4-by-400 team is usually made up of one of your best sprinters, your best 800 runner, your top 300 hurdler, and then obviously your best 400 runner. In those events alone, a solid group of four boys or girls can win you a lot of points on the track.”

Huss won the WPIAL 400 title this year in a time of 50.11 seconds. The state-qualifying 1,600 relay consists of Huss, Damian Morales, Christian Bartlebaugh and Dom Reffo.

Huss has come full circle after a football injury.

“He started off as a freshman with a small chip (on his shoulder),” Curcio said. “But due to challenges he’s had to face … he’s definitely realized that hard work is the best way to reach success.”

The Derry girls 1,600 relay of Mary Trinclisti, Sydney Williams, Bethany Allen and Leah Perry ran in the WPIAL finals.

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

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