Young Derry track team finding success ahead of schedule

Tuesday, April 19, 2022 | 6:41 PM

It wasn’t a picturesque day at Derry track practice Monday. A cold wind was gusting and ice pellets were pelting the distance runners during their workout.

But there were no complaints. There was work to do and the runners were fighting through the harsh elements.

Derry is in the midst of another outstanding season and was preparing for a tough two weeks.

The Derry girls are undefeated at 2-0 so far this season while the Derry boys are 1-1.

The teams will face Apollo-Ridge and Leechburg on Wednesday in a key WPIAL Section 7-2A matchup and then compete in the Slippery Rock Invitational on Saturday. The following week has the Trojans playing host to Ligonier Valley and Burrell on April 27 and competing in the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association meet at Latrobe on April 30.

“It’s a big two weeks for us,” Derry coach Mark Curcio said. “Someone told me that with the youth we have on the team, that future is real bright. The reality is the future is now.”

There are only 10 seniors on the Derry roster (four boys and six girls) and 24 freshmen (11 boys and 13 girls).

“We have a lot of freshmen scoring points for us,” Curcio said. “More than 50% of the team is made up of freshman. If you look at the top point getters on the girls’ squad, it’s predominately freshmen.”

Freshman Jane Huss is the leading point scorer on the team. She is a distance runner who will do anything she’s asked to do — or volunteers for.

“Against Deer Lakes, we were trying to figure out the best way to use her,” Curcio said. “She volunteered to run in the 1,600-meter relay team and told me, ‘I got this, coach.’”

Derry distance coach Greg Rager said he has high hopes for Huss and the distance relay teams that include Huss, Alayna Williams, Sydney Williams, Mikah Horwat and Emma Huber. Huber and Sydney Williams are seniors; the other three are freshmen.

“As a group overall, I’ve seen a level of dedication from January to now, and including the cross country season, that a distance group at Derry hasn’t seen in a long time,” Rager said. “I’d like to see the girls relay teams go undefeated in the section, medal at the county meet and eventually qualify for states.”

Huss has run the 800, 1,600 and 3,200

“We’ve put in the work,” Huss said. “We listen to what the coach says and we have great teamwork.”

Huss’ goals are to make states in the 1,600 and 3,200 and help the relay team out.

Curcio said both teams have good balance.

“We want to compete for a section title and the girls are doing pretty well so far,” Curcio said. “We’d like to win the section and compete for a WPIAL title. If the boys can beat Apollo-Ridge and Leechburg, they put themselves back in the race.”

Charlie Banks, a junior, is one of the team’s top distance runners.

Rager is hoping for big things from the boys 1,600-meter relay team. He hopes they place at the county meet. The team consists of freshman Gabe Gess, junior Troy Clark, senior Derrick Moffett and Banks.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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