The Allegheny track and field team will kick off its season this Saturday with a preview meet at Case Western Reserve University.
While the meet will only showcase sprinters and throwers, Head Coach Brent Wilkerson is hoping it is indicative of things to come after last year’s success.
“We have a lot of returners for both the men and the women,” Wilkerson said. “I think combined we only graduated about five seniors, so we are really looking to make a push for the conference championships.”
Leading the charge for the men’s team, who are coming off of a third place finish last season, is team captain and thrower Michael Petro, ’15.
In addition to pushing for a conference title this year, Petro said that he hopes to qualify for the national championships and become an all-American in the weight throw and the hammer throw.
Part of the reason for optimism for both the men and women revolves around the talent of this year’s freshmen class.
“I’m very proud of how the freshmen have worked since they’ve come in,” Petro said. “It’s exciting to see such young talent step up to the plate early and I hope that they will perform for us.”
Marisa Brown, ’15, a distance runner who serves as a captain for the women’s team is among those who has taken notice.
“When I came in as a freshman it was our head coach’s first official year and he had only just started recruiting,” Brown said. “The classes after me have gotten stronger year after year, so this freshman class has a ton of talent.”
One such newcomer is Ariel Rittenhouse, ’18, from Columbus, Ohio, who finished among the top five on the women’s cross-country team this season with Brown.
“We’re going to have a really good distance medley relay this year,” Rittenhouse said. “We have a lot of girls that could be really good on it and I hope to be one of them.”
Tre’ Taylor, ’18, a sprinter and jumper from Mesquite, Texas, is among the most highly touted of this year’s freshmen. He will run the men’s 200-meter and 400-meter dashes this season in addition to the long jump.
In high school, Taylor’s personal best in the 400 was 48.8 seconds. The Allegheny school record of 48.32 seconds is held by current assistant coach Taylor Throckmorton, ’12.
“I’m just out here to run and if I do well and make it to nationals then that’s great,” Taylor said.
Although the team does not have an official meet until the end of the January, Wilkerson wants his players to be ready after winter break.
“Everybody on the team has a lot of work to get done and hopefully the team can stay in communication with each other and keep each other motivated for the season,” Wilkerson said. “We really like to come back from that break healthy so we can start on a good base before our competitive schedule begins.”
“It’s basically one long season,” Brown said, who missed last year with an injury. “We just call it different names and different times.”
Anyone on the cross-country team is required to do track. For Brown and other distance runners, they are essentially working year-round between cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
“What can you do,” Taylor said. “Track is life.”