Norwin girls track and field aiming to end WPIAL title drought
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 | 6:21 PM
It has been 11 years since the Norwin girls track and field team won a WPIAL title.
It was the end of four years of dominance by the Knights, who won the Class AAA title from 2005-08.
The 2019 Knights want to end that drought Monday at Peters Township against returning champion Butler, North Allegheny and Seneca Valley.
Norwin advanced to the finals by defeating Thomas Jefferson (126-24), Mt. Lebanon (85-65) and Connellsville (133.5-15.5).
It’s no secret as to which girls carry the load. Seniors Lexi Gray, Jessica Kolesar, Emily Brozeski, Lexi Birkland and Courtney Kosanovic are the teams’ top scorers.
“Those five are the most competitive girls I’ve coached,” Norwin fourth-year coach Brian Fleckenstein said. “They don’t accept losing. The bigger the event, the better they compete.”
For Gray and Kolesar, they are atop the WPIAL Class AAA rankings in the triple jump and long jump. Gray has leaped a personal best of 38 feet, 1 ¼ inches. The Bucknell commit also does the high jump and long jump.
“We got to the finals last year and didn’t win,” Gray said. “That’s been our motivation: to get back there and win it. We want to leave on a good note and win it. We have a good young group that’s helped a lot.”
Gray said she knows she will have to jump farther if she wants to make states and qualify for New Balance Nationals. She’s looking to reach 39 feet.
Kolesar leads the WPIAL in the long jump with a leap of 17-11 ½. It’s not her best. That occurred last season when she jumped 18-4. The Cornell commit also competes in the 200, triple jump and relays.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the WPIAL team title, and with this group, we know we have the potential to do that,” Kolesar said. “We’re capable of doing that as long as we work together and pick each other up.”
Kolesar is a two-time PIAA medalist. While her times are OK and her long jump leads the WPIAL, she is not satisfied.
“Emily and I got off to a slow start, so we’re pushing each other to get better,” Kolesar said. “Our marks aren’t where we like. We have to continue to drill.”
Because of basketball, Brozeski didn’t get off to her best start. But she hopes to peak this month at the team tournament and the WPIAL individual championships.
The Duquesne recruit runs to 100- and 300-meter hurdles and teams with Kolesar, Kayla Singer, Katelyn Kauffman and Jordan Turkovski on the 400 relay team.
“We’re really doing it for each other,” Brozeski said. “We want to do the best of our abilities. If we do that, we’ll reach our full potential.”
Brozeski said her individual goal is to make the top eight at WPIALs and qualify for states in both hurdles events, the high jump and the relay team.
“We have a chance at doing really well in the relay,” Brozeski said. “We have to continue to work hard.”
Kosanovic runs the distance races, and Birkland has been scoring points in the throws.
Fleckenstein said it is going to take others to step up if Norwin hopes to win the title. The Knights recently won the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association title.
“Ever since Trinity (Morgan) was the coach, if you put the team first it always works out for the individuals,” Fleckenstein said. “These girls do it for the team.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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