Veteran athletes leading Plum track and field team in early going

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Friday, April 12, 2019 | 6:55 PM


Maddie Monick knows what it’s like to compete at the PIAA track and field championships.

She earned the opportunity as a sophomore in the 300-meter hurdles.

Now, as a senior, Monick hopes to represent Plum again at Shippensburg.

“Right now, the focus for me us just getting my times down from last year,” said Monick, a four-time WPIAL medalist in the hurdles events.

“I’ve been able to do that in meets so far. I really want to get back to states. I was so close last year.”

Monick owns two WPIAL medals in the 100 hurdles and two in the 300 hurdles, including last year’s seventh in the 100 (15.53).

She is hoping to rebound from a 20th in the 300 after taking seventh in the event as a sophomore and eighth as a freshman.

Monick is one of several Plum competitors back to lead the team for first-year coach Adam Molinaro, a distance runner during his time as a student-athlete at Plum.

“We’ve had so many great performances so far,” Molinaro said. “We’ve seen so many personal bests. The kids are really working hard.”

A select group of runners, jumpers and throwers were scheduled to compete at Saturday’s Tri-State Track Coaches Association meet at West Mifflin. The event was to conclude past the deadline for this week’s edition.

Plum was to face Gateway in a section meet Wednesday afternoon.

Senior Emmie Lawton is hoping to add distance to her newly acquired school record in the discus.

Lawton threw 112 feet, 8 inches against Woodland Hills on April 4. The previous record of 111-0.5 by Laura Buzzard stood for 22 years.

“I had been going after that since my freshman year,” Lawton said. “It feels great to finally have it.”

Lawton competed at WPIALs last year, as did junior Angela Valotta, who finished 16th in the 1,600 run.

Valotta went head to head last week against Oakland Catholic senior Hannah Shupansky, the defending Class AAA champion in the 3,200.

“Angela’s getting to where she wants to be for the invitationals,” Molinaro said.

Molinaro said he is seeing good things from returning WPIAL performer Olivia Pernice (long jump, triple jump and sprints), as well as sophomore Jamie Seneca.

Molinaro said Seneca, who won the long jump against Franklin Regional, has been battling through injury so far this spring.

Also hoping for big things in the distance events, Molinaro said, is sophomore Livia Paoletti.

On the boys side, Plum’s lone PIAA qualifier from last year, senior Hunter Linhart, is hoping for big things in the discus, javelin and shot put.

He placed fourth at WPIALs in the discus and hit a career best of 147 feet, 7 inches (10th) at states.

Linhart said he’s hoping for a return to states, and he’s also focused on the school record in the discus owned by his father, Luke (154-8 in 1991).

“The overall throwing groups have performed really well so far this season,” Linhart said.

That group includes sophomore Logan Parker, a 2018 WPIAL performer in the shot (12th) and discus (13th). Parker tossed a career best 47-1½ in the shot against McKeesport and Central Catholic.

“I feel amazing right now in the shot,” Parker said. “Every opportunity I had (in the offseason), I came up here and practiced my footwork and all of that. I feel really good about getting a medal at WPIALs this year.”

The Plum boys began section competition with a pair of close losses — by nine to Franklin Regional and by one to Central Catholic.

Molinaro said he sees a pretty athletic boys squad, and he expects big things from the likes of jumpers Max Matolscy, a sophomore, and Joel Tarzaho, a junior.

The jumping group is under the direction of first-year assistant Samantha Taylor, a WPIAL and state performer during her time at Gateway who went on to star in the javelin and long jump at Slippery Rock.

“She’s doing a nice job teaching the jumpers technique, and they’ve all really improved,” Molinaro said.

Molinaro also likes what he sees from competitors such as distance runners Robert Hankinson (junior), Will Brewer (sophomore) and Justin Mascilli (junior); and sprinters Ta’Rasi Means (sophomore) and Miles Tush (junior).

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

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