Norwin track and field to lean on senior depth

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Saturday, April 10, 2021 | 11:01 AM


A global pandemic put a line through last season, ending playoff streaks for both of the Norwin track and field teams.

The boys had made the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals in 2017 and ’18, while the girls reached the team finals four years in a row (2016-19) and have made the semis 13 of the last 15 years.

The teams have a combined three losses since 2016.

The senior-strong Knights are primed to add to that run of success this spring.

“We are very excited to be back on the track this season and welcome back a great group of seniors,” first-year coach Thom Swenson said. “Many of these athletes have been with us for a number of years, and we know that they are ready to work hard to reach their fullest potential.”

The boys look to have marked talent in distance events with the return of Alex Jubert, John Dodaro, Gavin Hladek and Shaylie Cuthbert.

Those runners had success in cross country in the fall, which could carry over.

Jordyn Turcovski and Connor Chrisman will be sprinters and help the team in multiple ways.

“We have a great group all around for this season,” Chrisman said. “Our jumpers and throwers will play a big role in how the next two months play out. We also have strong relay teams.”

Other sprinters include Nate Bown and Brendan Ash, while John Giansante and Hayden O’Bryon will cover jumps and Brennan Hileman is among the top throwers.

“The versatility and speed of these jumpers will also be a great addition to our track events,” said Swenson, a former assistant coach with the Knights who worked with sprints and relays.

Points in the hurdles will come from Alex Puskaric and Tony Sacco, who also is a pole vaulter.

Chrisman said returning to track season has been exhilarating.

“It feels great,” he said. “The rush of adrenaline before an event is like nothing else.’

On the girls side, Aleksandra Brozeski and Abigayle Kugler will be key jumpers, Natlie Shuster competes in hurdles, and Brooke Alexander and Megan Barry are throwers, while Hannah Zeiler pole vaults.

“Our throwing coaches have been working hard to build some numbers in those events and we look forward to some great performances,” Swenson said.

Barry, a Waynesburg commit, thinks one of the team’s top qualities is an intangible.

“I think one of our biggest strengths as a team is our dedication,” said Barry, who throws the javelin. “Our team as a whole has extremely dedicated athletes who are willing to put in all the time they need to, in order to get better.

“And we are each other’s cheerleaders. The throwers cheer on the runners, and so on.”

Swenson said contributions won’t end with the seniors.

“We are equally as excited about the underclassman, as well,” he said. “Our junior, sophomore and freshmen athletes are ready to work hard as well, and we look forward to the future of our program.”

Brian Fleckenstein stepped down as head coach and now is primarily working with distance runners.

“I’m glad to be back in my role as distance coach only,” he said. “I enjoyed being head coach and now get to refocus on distance training. The program is in great hands, and we have such great coaches across the board. I am excited for coach Swenson and program.”

Fleckenstein guided the 2017 boys’ 1,600-meter relay to WPIAL and PIAA championships. That Knights foursome consisted of then-seniors Kyle Turcovsky and twins Josh and Nick Coleman, and sophomore Gianni Rizzo.

They posted a time of 3 minutes, 18.26 seconds at the state meet in Shippensburg.

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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