Quaker Valley track teams boast returning pedigree
By: Karen Kadilak
Friday, March 29, 2019 | 8:11 PM
Trios of veterans lead the Quaker Valley track teams.
Quaker Valley coach Jerry Veshio expects strong performances from three boys and three girls who competed at the WPIAL Class AA championship meet last season.
The girls squad features one of the top distance runners in the state.
Junior Annie Wicker placed fifth in the 1,600-meter run at the past two PIAA championships and hopes to climb.
“I just want to stay healthy and focus on improving my times,” said Wicker, who came in second in the 3,200 and third in the 1,600 in the WPIAL last season. “As for the team, we are trying to develop a strong distance group and maybe put together a (3,200) relay.”
The Quakers must replace Audrey Durbin, a WPIAL finalist in the 1,600 and 3,200 who placed 13th in the 3,200 in the PIAA last season. Durbin is a freshman on the Elon women’s team.
Sophomore Francesca Courtney returns after finishing 15th in the WPIAL in the 300 hurdles.
In field events, sophomore Claire Kuzma shines in the discus, where she placed second in the WPIAL and ninth in the PIAA.
Among losses is Franzi Nace, the reigning WPIAL champion and a two-time PIAA runner-up in the triple jump. The girls team qualified for the WPIAL team championship and finished 18th in the PIAA.
On the boys side, junior Colm Lang (third in the triple jump), junior Daniel Ford (fourth in the 1,600) and senior Dom Lagnese (fifth in the discus) are top returning performers from the WPIAL meet.
Lagnese placed 14th in the PIAA in the discus.
The Quakers saw Noah Berry, a WPIAL and PIAA finalist in the high jump, depart.
Sewickley Academy returns one of two people from WPIALs. Senior Nella Tsudis placed seventh in the girls 400 dash.
“(Tsudis) is my top competitor and has a great shot to make it back to WPIALs and possibly compete for a spot at states,” Sewickley Academy coach Derek Chimner said.
The boys team lost Sam Casale, who placed eighth in the WPIAL in the 400 dash. He is a freshman sprinter for Chicago.
The Panthers have a ton of new faces.
“My (teams) went from 21 members last year to 36 this year, with 19 athletes among all four grades who have never competed in track,” Chimner said. “It has been a really fun start to the season.
“We have had to go back to the basics in each event and talk about how best to compete in them, which has helped the veteran members take on some leadership.”
Tsudis said she looks forward to seeing everyone progress.
Quaker Valley hosts Cornell, Freedom and Winchester Thurston in the Section 3-AA opener April 4.
Sewickley Academy kicked off Section 2-AA action April 2 against Rochester, Neighborhood Academy and host South Side Beaver.