Pine-Richland track and field team off to strong start

Sunday, April 17, 2022 | 10:01 AM

Through wind, rain, sleet, snow and cold temperatures, Pine-Richland track and field has powered through the dreadful early spring weather.

Team-wise the Rams have achieved some good results with the girls at 2-1 in section dual meets through Wednesday.

Individually there’s been some progress as well, and the goal is to continue to drop times as the temperatures eventually warm up.

“Every meet we’ve had has been either cold or rainy,” Pine-Richland track coach Mark Hunkele said. “We know they will be a little bit better, especially the track times, once we get some better weather to run in. That said, we still have had some really good performances and times from the kids, but we’d like to see them run in optimal conditions.”

The Rams return plenty of talent and have had some freshmen step up in the early going. All four legs of last year’s 3,200-meter relay team that won the WPIAL championship — Meredith Price, Angelina Hunkele, Elizabeth Hunkele and Natalie McLean — return.

“We’re expecting a big year out of all four of them,” Hunkele said. “We’re hoping to repeat in the relay again this year and have a shot to win it at states. They all went to states last year and did well, so we’re hopeful that they’ll have similar or better results this season.”

All four also will participate in distance events as well, along with freshmen Mary Claire Daniello and Maren Iski, who have gotten off to good starts.

Another freshman off to a fast start is sprinter Abigail Satina.

“She’s doing really well,” Hunkele said. “She’s been the fastest sprinter we have so far in the 100 and 200, and she’s also a member of the 1,600 relay team. She’s won the 100 a couple times and placed first in the 200 at the Butler meet.”

CJ Williams, a senior, has been good in the middle distance races. Kate Lindrose, a junior, is standing out in the hurdles, while fellow junior Delaney Allen has been holding down the throwing events.

Gianna Rotelli, a junior, who was second in javelin at WPIALs last year, will not compete this year due to a knee injury.

On the boys’ side, senior Chris Fisher is a returning WPIAL qualifier as a distance runner. He’s coming off a strong cross country season and is hopeful to not only return to WPIALs, but advance to states.

Nick Hartwick nearly made WPIALs last year and has improved this year, running a time in the 200 that ranks second in school history.

Pine-Richland basketball standout Joey Dudkowski, a senior, is out for track for the first time and is running the 100, 200 and 400 and does the high jump

Freshman Ben McLean and junior Nick King are leading the middle distance runners. Alex Gochis, the leading receiver on the Pine-Richland football team, and Luca Rudolph pace the sprinters and Brad Gelly is a top hurdler.

Joey Schneck, Connor Lentz and James Cook have been scoring well in the field events, and Emery Moye does all three jumping events.

“Everyone is working hard on the (boys and girls) teams and are trying to improve meet to meet,” Hunkele said. “There’s a good atmosphere around the team. We had a lot of individuals make WPIALs and states last year and we expect to have even more this year.”

Pine-Richland has two more section duals against Seneca Valley and North Allegheny.

Aside from the dual meets, there will be several tune-ups for WPIALs in the coming weeks, starting with the Butler Invitational Friday and Saturday. The Rams will split the team between the South Fayette and Mars Invitationals the following week and will host the Pine-Richland Invitational May 6. It’ll be the first time since 2019 they will be able to host the full meet.

“We’re looking forward to being able to host a full field,” Hunkele said. “Last year we were able to put on a mini-invitational. In previous years, with some full team and some partial teams, we had around 60 schools represented. We’re hopeful we’ll get similar numbers.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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