Penn Hills uses indoor track and field season as springboard

Friday, January 12, 2018 | 11:36 PM

Even though it's not time for outdoor track and field, it's time for those with WPIAL and PIAA aspirations to begin their journey by utilizing the indoor season as a jumping-off point.

Penn Hills seniors Jaden Rouse and Emmanuel Mitchell hope to tap into their potential and take themselves to the next level.

Last season, Mitchell captured the WPIAL Class AAA high jump title with a jump of 6 feet, 6 inches and tied for third place with a jump of 6-4 at PIAAs. Mitchell finished in a four-way tie with Mt. Lebanon's Mason Ventrone, Pittston Area's Paul Moska and Ephrata's Elie Basenga.

“He has had some really good success, but he has a 6-6 PR. But I know there is a lot more in him,” coach Lee Zelkowitz said.

“He just needs to refine some things on his approach and technique. He is going to really shine and have a chance to win it all this year.”

Last season, Rouse finished sixth (43-9.25) in the triple jump at the WPIAL Class AAA championship. Rouse looks to qualify for states in the triple jump as well as the long jump.

“Jaden has been participating since he was a freshman. He's had some ups and downs with battling through some injuries. He had a much better season last year. He still has some frustration in there,” Zelkowitz said.

“He knows he has a lot in there. His best jumps were when he just scratched and fouled by a little bit. We are working on some things, so hopefully that will eliminate that.”

The Indians' first meet of the indoor season Jan. 6 at Edinboro was canceled.

However, Rouse and senior jumper Lamiere Green registered just in time to join the Youngstown State Open. Rouse finished first in the triple jump with a jump of 42-7.5 and fourth in the long jump with a jump of 19-5. Green took eighth in the triple jump with a jump of 37-6.5.

Even though Rouse captured the triple jump title at Youngstown State, the main goal is to be at their best when it counts most.

“Everything we do is centered around peaking in May for the outdoor season,” Zelkowitz said. “Historically, we've done well with indoor. We've gotten a lot people up to states and won a lot of medals, but we try to do that more on strength.

“We try to use it as a building phase, and we try to get stronger as the outdoor season goes along.”

The runners will be led by seniors Alex Trower, Wesley Trower and Micah Silverman and juniors Daequan Hardy and Devyn Best.

Alex Trower will compete in the 60- and 200-meter runs indoor and the 100 and 200 for the outdoor season. He also will be part of the 400 and 1,600 relays.

Wesley Trower will run the 400, 800 and 1,600 relay. Hardy will run in the 200 and 400, and Best will participate in the 400 and 1,600 relay. Silverman will be the Indians' distance runner.

On the girls' side, the Indians will be led by senior Kaylee Ellsler and junior Caroline Webb, who will participate in the 800.

“We don't have great numbers for indoor, but I know it will pick up for outdoor. I think we are a really nice balanced team,” Zelkowitz said.

“We lose Isaiah Bailey, which is tough, but I think we just got some better numbers this year. I think having someone like Isaiah having a lot of success last year really helped.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.


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