Norwin athletes ready to compete at WPIAL championship meet

Friday, May 11, 2018 | 11:00 PM

Growing up always comes with bumps and bruises, and the talented, yet precocious Norwin track and field program is no different.

After sneaking up on opponents last season, this year was a different story as every foe kept a close eye on the Knights. But now that the team competition part of the season is over, the Knights can exhale, breathe and concentrate on the performing at Thursday's WPIAL Class AAA individual championships at Baldwin.

“I feel like now that a lot of the chaos with the team stuff and hosting meets is over, you get to flip the switch and do what you want to do,” Norwin coach Brian Fleckenstein said. “I always call May the postseason.”

The Norwin girls team turned in a repeat performance from a year ago and finished fourth in Class AAA team competition behind champion Butler, Hempfield and North Allegheny.

“The Butler girls on paper were pretty dominant, and it would have taken a mishap on their part for us to get in there,” Fleckenstein said. “We were one relay away from second place this year. The bus ride (home) was real reflective, and we're looking forward to next year because the boys are young, as well.”

Youth has a way of shaking things off rather easily and moving forward. Fleckenstein expects his athletes to do just that. The girls' 400-meter relay will look to improve upon last year's second-place finish. The group includes Emily Brozeski, Jessica Kolesar, Kayla Singer, Jordyn Turcovski and Rachel Milke. They've posted a top time of 49.73 seconds.

Because of his team's depth, Fleckenstein has the luxury of having an extra runner who can fill in.

“Those four or five (runners) are pretty interchangeable,” Fleckenstein said. “They ran their best time in practice, and at the ‘last chance' meet they dropped .02 seconds off (their time) and should be a in fast heat at WPIALs.”

All three relays have a legitimate shot at moving on to the PIAA championships. The 3,200 relay of Julia Fasiczka, Emily Shaw, Laurel Noe and Courtney Kosanovic is seeded third (9:45.38).

“Every time they've run the relay the last few meets or so, their time has dropped,” Fleckenstein said.

The combination of Faziska, Shaw, Singer and Courtney Smith have the 1,600 relay seeded eighth (4:02.38).

“All three relays look like they have a shot to get through,” Fleckenstein said.

Kolesar finished with the second- best time in the 200 meters (25.04) and finished with the third-best distance in the long jump (18 feet, 4 34 inches). Brozeski ranks third in the 300 hurdles (45.72) and fifth in the 100 hurdles (15.26) and turned in the eighth-best height in the high jump (5-2).

Alexas Birkland's top throw of 116-5 in the discus was the sixth best in Class AAA this season.

While the strength of the girls team is the junior class, the strength for the boys team is its young sophomore class. The Knights 1,600 relay team of Logan Huss, Gianni Rizzo, Ian Brown and Brady Schmitt have the top time (3:24.08) in Class AAA. The Knights turned in a 3:20.24 to win WPIAL gold last season. Dylan Kantz has a shot at qualifying for states in the high jump, where he is seeded sixth (6-3), and Rizzo finished the season with the second- best time in the 200 (22.49).

The 3,200 relay of Matt O'Neill, Carson Shipley, Jake Tarasky, Dom Spatolisano also have a shot. O'Neill also is a dark horse in the 800.

With more than a week off from the Knights last competition, Fleckenstein said his Knights have used the extra time to prepare mentally and physically ahead of the Thursday's championships.

“It's a lot easier for the kids to focus both mentally and physically,” Fleckenstein said. “The mental focus is able to be sharper because you don't have to run an extra event to win (individual) finals.”

The Norwin boys team also finished fourth at the WPIAL Class AAA team championships.

William Whalen is a freelance writer.


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