Led by sprinter Gabrielle Layne, Plum athletes embark on 2024 track and field season

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Saturday, April 6, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Gabrielle Layne capped her 2023 outdoor track season with some major accomplishments.

She found herself on the medals podium twice at the WPIAL Class 3A championships at Slippery Rock with a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter dash and an eighth-pace finish in the 200 dash.

She also punched her ticket to the PIAA championships in Shippensburg.

The Plum junior now is hoping to take her performances to the next level. With work in the offseason, including training and competition with Future Stars track club over the summer, she hopes to make her mark in meets and invitationals this spring.

“My biggest thing is competing hard at practice, lifting weights, getting proper rest and nutrition, and just keeping a positive attitude,” Layne said.

“Hopefully, that all shows with my performances on the track. Last year showed me that I was right up there with some of the top sprinters in the WPIAL. Getting (personal bests) and making it to states really boosted my confidence. I know that with my offseason training, I can do even better.”

Layne said her work with others in Plum’s indoor season helped her see her competition heading into outdoor meets.

“You can see who your biggest rivals will be and what work you need to do to do well at certain invitationals and at WPIALs and states,” she said.

Plum coach Matt Proskin said Layne has made her mark on the track and also in the leadership department with many of the teams’ younger athletes.

“Her maturity in her approach to her own performances and what she needs to do as well as her place as a leader has really taken off,” Proskin said.

“Going as far as she did last year has given her valuable insight for the younger kids coming up through the ranks. She has taken a more active role in giving kids advice and leading drills, stretches and those kind of things.”

Proskin said seniors Nia Hart and Aiyana Adams complement Layne and are solid senior leaders for the team. Adams will compete on the track team at Division II Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Del.

Last year was the first track season for Adams, a sprinter with Layne and Hart and also a shot putter.

“She’s one of our hardest workers, and whatever she puts in this season will help her continue to build to the next level,” Proskin said.

Proskin said there were a lot of strong and promising performances from the Plum boys and girls teams in the season-opening meet against Franklin Regional on March 27.

“Our teams are on the younger side, so it was encouraging to see efforts and performances by some of our freshmen and younger kids,” he said. “Our girls 4-by-100 relay team really ran well that day. That has a nice blend of two freshmen (Tamia West and Isla Filo) and then Gabby and Nia.

“Across the board, it was a solid day. Both teams lost the meet, but we weren’t far off. We were competitive, which we wanted to see against a pretty strong team with depth. It showed we are doing a lot of the right things.”

Mother Nature wreaked havoc last week with several track and field practices and meets. Plum’s meet at Woodland Hills was postponed to Monday. It was slated to start at 6 p.m. because of the solar eclipse earlier in the afternoon.

Plum athletes also were to face the competition at Altoona’s 47th annual Igloo Invitational on Saturday, past the deadline for this week’s edition.

“It’s a really well-run event every year,” Proskin said. “It’s a little smaller in scale than some other invitationals we go to, and there are some unfamiliar faces. But typically, the WPIAL kids do pretty well there. It’s another good early meet to get the kids, especially some of the younger ones, exposure and experience in an invitational setting.”

Sophomore Owen Proskin, Matt’s son, returns after making his WPIAL debut last year. He was 14th in the 110 hurdles, and 21st in the high jump. He had a busy winter with indoor track and playing on the Plum boys basketball team.

“He also competes outside of school in AAU track, so he’s been to some high-level meets,” Matt Proskin said. “He has many good experiences to pull from as he looks to improve in all of his events.”

Junior Josephine Sciulli, who was 15th in the 300 hurdles at WPIALs last year, is back as well as 2023 WPIAL qualifiers in sophomore Elijah Jackson and junior Nick Odom from the 400 relay. Also back are seniors Aiden Steinagle and Gabe Powell and sophomore Parker Berrot from the 3,200 relay.

Powell is coming off a cross country season in the fall where he qualified for states in Hershey.

Proskin said the boys and girls throwing squads are showing progress, including junior Nicholas Sheffo in the javelin with a top toss of 152 feet, 9 inches in a scrimmage with Kiski Area and Greensburg Salem.

First the first time in many years, Proskin said, Plum athletes are competing in the pole vault.

“Some of them have really taken to it, (junior) Jaimin Hancock, (freshman) Eli Matolcsy, (junior) Maddie Marzina, (sophomore) Zoe Wilkes and (freshman) Addison Ferguson in particular,” he said. “Tim Trey from Vault Athletics has been coming to help our program get off the ground.”

Freshmen who also should make an immediate impact, Proskin said, include Kent Holmes, Niko Burrell, Maura Smith, Jimmy Jodkin and Brady Sciullo.

“They should be major contributors and are expected to have bright futures on the track team,” Proskin said.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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