Shaler Area athletes preparing for opening indoor track meet of season
By: Josh Rizzo
Thursday, December 27, 2018 | 8:00 PM
The Shaler Area indoor track team saw one of its athletes get a surge of confidence from running inside last season.
John Franklin set the indoor record in the 60-meter hurdles and rode the momentum to reaching the PIAA Class AAA championships in the 110-meter hurdles.
Titans indoor coach Shawn Ryan hopes a few more athletes will receive the same bump and make states in both seasons again this winter. Shaler will open up the season Jan. 5 at TSTC Meet 1 at Edinboro University.
The Titans have 35 athletes working out with the team and about 20 on the travel roster.
“I think it’s a tremendous segway to the outdoor season,” Ryan said.
Several Shaler athletes are looking to get the Franklin bump.
One jumper will be anxious to get back into the fold. Junior Cam Mbalo will be competing in indoor for the first time this year after surprising people at the WPIAL Class AAA championships last season.
Mbalo, who was seeded 17th, leapt a personal-best 42 feet, 9.75 inches and nearly qualified for states.
“He got progressively better as a jumper last year,” Ryan said. “I think he benefited from having consistent coaching. Coming in as a ninth grader, there was a change on the coaching staff.”
Ryan believes if that progress continues, more doors could open for Mbalo. The school record may be in sight.
“We anticipate him doing pretty well this year,” Ryan said. “He has some goals of going to the state championship meet in the indoor season.”
The Titans will return three athletes who qualified for the TSTCA State Indoor Championships last year. Sophomores Mayah Charity (60-meter dash) and Danielle Eshelman (800 meter, mile) on the girls’ side return, while junior Dalton Kalbaugh (mile) will also be back.
Lydia Valentine (shot put) and Andrew Dadowski (sprints) are expected to help the Titans out.
Kalbaugh is coming off a strong cross country season where he earned his first bid to the PIAA championships. In addition, freshman Samantha Hennen, who also qualified for states in cross country, will provide more depth to a deep group of distance runners.
All of the runners have been helped by not having to battle Mother Nature.
Ryan expects to see several athletes reach school records, especially in the distance relay.
“Our training has been going well,” Ryan said. “As you know, Western Pennsylvania is hard to prepare for indoor track and field. The weather has been cooperative.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.
Tags: Shaler Area