Szekely pacing Greensburg Central Catholic cross country youth movement

Wednesday, October 6, 2021 | 10:24 AM

If you’re at a local cross country meet, Nick Szekely is easy to spot. Just look for the socks.

“Ever since seventh grade, when I did track, I’ve always worn socks with designs on them, like dinosaurs and foxes,” said Szekely, a standout sophomore runner at Greensburg Central Catholic.

There’s just one problem. His school’s dress code isn’t exactly keen on elaborate socks, meaning Szekely has to get crafty with when and how he wears them.

“He’s just a nice kid and very smart. Too smart for his own good,” Centurions coach Luke Snyder said. “He has a mind like a lawyer. He’s always trying to find a loophole in things.”

He also is fairly cunning on the course. Szekely finished seventh at the Uniontown Invite on Sept. 25 and is hoping to build off a freshman season in which he placed seventh overall at the WPIAL Class A championships.

Snyder said Szekely benefited from covid-19 restrictions last season. With fewer bodies on the course, he had more room to run and wasn’t boxed out by larger, older runners.

“Our boys team is on the upswing,” Snyder said. “He had an amazing season last year and embraced the role of being an underdog.”

Added Szekely, “As this season’s progressed, I’ve kind of started to get into the flow, and now my time’s going down. Now, I’d like to work on improving my legs and preventing injury in them.”

In addition to running track in the spring, Szekley keeps his legs in shape in the winter by playing futsal, a version of indoor soccer.

“I enjoy it more than socce, and I’ve become part of the team,” he explained.

“He’s easy to coach,” Snyder said. “He’s not very assuming or cocky or over confident. He’s somebody who likes to put his head down and work quietly.”

Snyder sees Szekley as the centerpiece to a strong group of underclassmen.

Ben Petnuch has embraced the sport more seriously and, despite being a sophomore, is growing into a leader. Gabe Myers, a junior, also has impressed Snyder.

Add in freshman Harry Bogner, and Snyder has good reason to be optimistic about the future of the program.

“They’re getting faster every meet,” Snyder said, admitting his team is feeling the fatigue of the large volume running of late September. “There’s a couple meets I wish we could have back and redo now that we’re improving to the point we have.

“We’re heading in the right direction, and we have a lot of momentum going into the championship season.”

The girls team, which Snyder said is a bit ahead of the boys team at the moment, is ready to fully welcome back into the fold senior Corinn Brewer, one of the top runners in the region who finished second at the WPIAL Class A championships last year.

She has not run much cross country this fall because of commitments to the USA Track and Field season.

In her place, freshman Jonah Althof has emerged as a runner Snyder is excited about.

“I think she’s going to be a surprise come WPIALs,” Snyder said. “I think I can get her to slide into one of those last individual spots.”

Snyder will begin to put a larger emphasis on ramping up his team for postseason running starting Wednesday now that section meets are complete. Once that day hits, the eye, for every runner, should be on the prize.

“It’s a matter of trusting the process and putting in the miles now,” he said. “And knowing that the benefits don’t come for another three weeks.”


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