Plum track and field athletes shine at Lady Spartan/Wildcat Invitational

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Saturday, April 24, 2021 | 11:01 AM


After competing in a trio of Section 5-AAA meets in the early part of the season, Plum boys and girls track and field team members stepped out and tested their mettle at their first invitational of the spring April 16.

Plum first-year coach Stephanie Lednak said the Lady Spartan and Wildcat invitationals at Latrobe gave the athletes a good idea of where they stood with just over a month to go until the WPIAL championships at Slippery Rock.

“Those dual meets were definitely great competition, but the meets (at Latrobe) gave the kids that good big-meet feel with prelims and finals they will also see down the road, especially at WPIALs. We had a really good day on both the boys and girls sides with a number of season bests. It was a really positive step forward.”

A number of Plum representatives picked up top-six medals.

“The conditions definitely weren’t perfect for anyone competing there, but I thought the kids handled it really well and competed strong against some of the bigger teams that were there,” Lednak said.

Logan Parker continued his senior-season success with a first-place finish in the shot put (54 feet, 5 inches) and a second in the discus (157-2).

He set a school record in the discus at a home dual meet with McKeesport and Oakland Catholic/Central Catholic on April 14 and increased his record distance at Latrobe.

The previous record of 154-8 was set in 1991 by Luke Linhart, the father of current Plum track and field senior Sydney Linhart.

Senior Max Matolcsy finished third in the boys triple jump (40-5.5) and fourth in the long jump (18-10.5).

“That was a really fun day and good competition,” Matolcsy said of the Lady Spartan and Wildcat meets.

“We were really looking forward to getting out there and going against more than just one or two teams. It showed how good both the boys and girls teams are and how we are ready for the rest of the season.”

Also taking home medals for Plum were sophomore Dannika Susko in the high jump (sixth, 4-6); junior Logan Brooks in the 100-meter dash (sixth, 11.98), high jump (third, 5-4) and long jump (sixth, 18-1.5); junior Jake George in the 300 hurdles (fourth, 44.82); senior Rocco Caprara in the discus (fifth, 127-9) and shot put (sixth, 42-0); and the 400 relay team of Matolcsy, sophomore Eryk Moore, senior AJ Koma and freshman Tristan Ralph (fifth, 46.15).

The top 24 placeholders in each event based on regular-season performances will qualify for the WPIAL meet.

Lednak said she hopes a large group will be able to represent Plum at WPIALs after all spring seasons last year were wiped out in the wake of growing concerns over the covid pandemic.

The invitationals at Latrobe led into a section tri-meet with rivals Penn Hills and Gateway last Tuesday at Gateway’s Antimarino Stadium.

Under sunny skies and in warm conditions before the cold snap that had a hold on the region for a couple of days, the Plum boys swept past Gateway and Penn Hills to move to 4-2 in the section, while the Mustangs girls team beat Penn Hills and fell to Gateway to even its record at 3-3.

Plum was to cap its dual-meet schedule Tuesday at nonsection Knoch. The meet was to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.

The Mustangs will run at the Mars Invitational on Friday and at the Norwin Last Chance meet May 11, two days before the deadline to submit entry performances for the WPIAL championships.

“With the kids losing last spring season, the sophomores and even some of the upperclassmen didn’t get the marks they wanted,” Lednak said. “The times and distances we were going off of coming into the season were two years old. You can grow or regress so much in that time. It felt like we were starting from scratch, but we’ve all learned a lot through the first month or so, and we’ve made great strides in our development.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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