Weekly Feature

2017-04-20 / Sports

East girls track brimming with young talent

With a roster that boasts just five seniors and four juniors, it’s all but inevitable that the younger members of West Seneca East’s girls track team will be among the leaders for first-year head coach Jason Overton this spring.

And with many of them returning to the squad after experiencing varying degrees of success last year, the chances that the younger Lady Trojans rise to the top this season only increase.

“We’re a young team this year consisting mainly of sophomores, and as such we’re a little bit lacking in experience and depth,” Overton said. “At the same time, we’ve got some good athletes among our juniors and seniors on the roster, athletes who are strong leaders and good role models that will be guiding the future of this program to becoming successful.”

Leading the way for East this season will be the team’s five seniors, four of whom — Azure Pitts, Brianna Zeitz, Emily Dauer and Chanel Poole — will serve as this year’s co-captains.

Pitts, last season’s team leader in points scored, will concentrate her efforts this spring in the jumping events, including trying her hand at the high jump this year. Zeitz, who was the squad’s top thrower last season, is looking to make sectionals after putting in a large amount of offseason work. Dauer also has her sights set on a sectional berth in one or more of the distance events, while Poole is another leader by example in the throwing events.

“Any event Azure competes in is sure to earn us points, and Chanel is dedicated and works hard with all of the throwers to help them be the best they can,” Overton said.

Key juniors on the squad will include Megan Landahl, who Overton said “improved greatly as she found her strengths as the season went on last year,” and Teagan Shanahan, whose versatility will allow her to excel in many events. Shanahan may compete in the pentathlon at invitationals, while Landahl will excel in the middle-distance events and also serve as the anchor on some of East’s relays.

The sophomore class, which makes up the bulk of East’s roster this year, will be led by Racheal Costello, Emma Freedenburg, Caitlyn Gatta, Kaitlyn Lisiecki, Kaylee McNichol, Aaliyah Morris, Paige Rzoska, Lezaya Shannon and Brianna Sorrentino.

Costello (400-meter hurdles, mile) and Freedenburg (distance) are both looking to flourish after overcoming foot issues, Overton said, while Lisiecki and McNichol (distance) “are very dedicated with great work ethics, and they’ll be pushing each other after they had productive freshman seasons.”

Rzoska and Shannon (sprints) will look to be East’s standard bearers in the shorter races, while Sorrentino, according to Overton, figures to be the Lady Trojans’ go-to hurdler. Gatta (jumps) and Morris are both first-year team members who will concentrate on the sprint events.

“Lezaya learned last year that it takes hard work to be one of the best, and she has dedicated herself to practice this year in pursuit of being the best,” Overton said. “Brianna puts in great effort every time out, so we may use her in many different events to maximize that effort.”

Freshmen Morgan Huber (sprints/throws), Hallie Butler (middle distance), Emily Piselli (sprints/jumps) and Genevieve Arnold (sprints, jumps, hurdles, middle distance) also have aspirations to help East achieve success this season. Butler, a first-time track competitor, “is very coachable,” while Piselli “was a standout at the modified level,” according to Overton.

“This group of girls has been dedicated to our workouts and they’re excited to compete,” Overton said. “We are going to have athletes setting personal records, but we might be more limited in scoring points at dual meets due to the amount of athletes we will have in each event. Regardless, I look forward to some stunning performances from the girls this year.”

East, which had its originally scheduled season opener against West Seneca West postponed to the middle of May, was scheduled to attempt to open its campaign again Wednesday against Williamsville South, but information about that meet — including whether or not the weather even allowed for it to happen — was not available at press time.

East is slated to resume league competition Tuesday by hosting Williamsville East before taking part in the annual West Seneca West Invitational on Saturday, April 29.

“We just want to challenge each other to be the best, which will ultimately help the girls to reach their goals,” Overton said. “Our goals are based on each week’s performances, but in the larger scope of things, we just hope to continue to achieve personal records until the end of the season so that we can then place at ECICs and sectionals.”

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