Pine-Richland track team boasts large crop of WPIAL, PIAA contenders

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Saturday, April 3, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The Pine-Richland boys and girls track teams are looking to go the distance this spring.

The finish line many of the Rams hope to cross is at the state championship.

That includes the endurance runners, who are part of a deep and talented group of athletes on both the boys and girls teams.

The Rams recently had five girls distance runners compete at the Adidas Indoor Nationals, and they are hopeful they can be a part of a large contingent that qualify and medal at the WPIALs and the PIAA meet.

Meredith Price, Audrey DeKunder, Elizabeth Hunkele, Angelina Hunkele and Natalie McLean competed at the Indoor Nationals.

Each one is still working out what event she will focus on individually, but Price, McLean and the Hunkele sisters will make up a formidable 3,200 relay team.

And coach Mark Hunkele said there are several other girls who will make up another strong relay team.

“They’re all off to really good starts,” Coach Hunkele said. “We’re excited about the season. Our team has grown. We have close to 140 kids on the roster, and everyone is working hard.”

Danielle Bryant, a senior and a Duke recruit, was the 2019 WPIAL champion in the 300 hurdles and is expected to be a favorite not only in the WPIAL but the state as well. Bryant was scheduled to compete in the Indoor Nationals but had to withdraw because of a minor injury. She’s still working her way back but is expected to compete soon.

Ella Rottinghaus, a Boston University field hockey recruit, is the lead sprinting specialist and will be part of the 1,600 relay along with Bryant and two of the distance runners.

Delaney Allen had a school record-setting season in swimming for Pine-Richland and will look to continue her success in the spring as a shot putter. Gianna Rotelli throws javelin.

Malaikah Kazihuro and Kate Lindrose are hurdlers and sprinters.

“We have a lot of girls that will be contributing,” Hunkele said. “It’s a really deep team.”

On the boys side, distance runners figure to be a strength as well.

Victor Williams has a variety of events he excels in from the 400 all the way up to the mile. He figures to anchor the 1,600 relay team. Joseph London, George Nix, Nick Labuda, Chris Fisher and Alex Erlain are all distance runners who Hunkele said were off to strong starts.

Sophomore Nick King is a 400 specialist, so much so that he broke the Pine-Richland high school record when he was in eighth grade. Soccer player and football kicker/punter Tony Nicassio is another standout in the middle distance events.

Indiana football recruit Eli Jochem, Elon football recruit/hockey standout Charlie Mill and John Rottinghaus highlight the roster of sprinters.

Ethan Balay and Roman Dunlap throw javelin.

Hunkele said there are still a few other athletes working their way back from winter sports that will be strong competitors with an eye on qualifying for WPIALs.

“It’s exciting to see how well-rounded both teams are from the track events to the field events,” Hunkele said. “We have high hopes for each team to place well in the section and have a lot of athletes competing at WPIALs and states. We’re confident we can get all three girls relay teams to states and hopefully some of the boys relay teams to states as well as a lot of individuals.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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