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Johnson Motors - 877-816-0659
Clearfield track numbers rising
Monday, March 25, 2013
By Andy Stine Sports Writer
HYDE - In his first season as head coach for the Clearfield track and field teams, John Jacob had about 60 boys and girls competing in the sport, and the numbers have risen every year since Jacob has had the program.
Now, in his fourth year leading the teams, the number of athletes has nearly hit the triple-digit mark.
Jacob now has 11 letterwinners on the boys side and eight on the girls returning from last year's team that had its first winning season since 2001.
"Last year the numbers climbed up to the high 80s and this year we're in the high 90s," said Jacob. "The same thing is happening with the middle school program. It's been doing well down there. We've been getting a lot of younger athletes, developing them, and now we're seeing that come up into in the varsity program.
"It's really nice to see some kids with some skill and know what the sport is about before they get to us, which has helped."
Dylan Graham (300 hurdles), Jessica Shomo (long jump and triple jump) and Jill Heichel (200 dash) all advanced to the state tournament last season and return to the team this season.
Although they didn't place in their respective events, they have shared their experiences with the team and have become valuable leaders.
"In practice, they're now testing themselves in practice and pushing themselves a little harder, which pushes everybody else to do the same," said Jacob.
"All three of those athletes are integral parts of our relays. They're helping develop three other athletes in not only relays, but also in their individual events."
Jacob says the senior letterwinners have all been vital pieces for the team's progress so far in practice.
Graham is joined by Kenton Climie, Rico Longoria and Ethan Tkacik as the boys senior letterwinners, while Courtney Smith and Morgen Turner team with Shomo as the senior letterwinners for the Lady Bison.
"My senior letterwinners are really great helping out with the varsity program with the new kids that are coming in," said Jacob. "It's like having another coach on the team. They're still very inquisitive about what's going on in track and field and how to make themselves better.
"The nice thing is those guys teach the younger athletes about what has happened over the years and little tips that even the coaching staff can't teach."
Wyatt Flanagan, Alec Freeman, Matt McKenzie, Tyler Stratton, Jack Soult, Jon Sponsler and Casey Wilsoncroft also lettered for the boys last season, as did Lauren Conrad, Carlee Freeberg, Heichel, Shannon Reinke and Emily Aveni for the girls.
Freeman, Sponsler, Soult and Climie all were letterwinners for the Bison last season and will return as the premier distance runners for the boys.
"They've all taken their lumps over the last couple years, and I think they're really going to have their breakout season this year in our distance," said Jacob.
The teams will also be adding pole vault this season for the first time in several years. With the addition of the event, Clearfield will not have to forfeit any points to their opponents this season.
"It's been quite a few years since we've had pole vault," said Jacob. "We have a group of six athletes that we've added to pole vault.
"Where we've forfeited nine points in the past, now we have a chance to compete for those points. I think that's going to be a great addition to the team, also."
With the high numbers, the teams have set lofty expectations for themselves this season. The girls will be looking for back-to-back winning seasons, while the boys will be looking to get over the .500 mark after narrowly missing it last season.
"For girls, we had a couple meets where we lost and it was very close. I think with the addition of the freshmen and the rest of the upperclassmen, the girls team is going to be very tough to beat. I think they're going to have a very strong showing when the district meet comes."
"For the boys, we were right on the verge of a winning season last year. We won more meets than we have in the past 10 years. The freshmen are coming along very nicely. I think we're on the brink of a winning season with the boys, also."
Curwensville's Becca Johnson, Ciara Strickland, Heather Thorp and Sarah Bailey will all compete with Clearfield, but will not count for points for the girls team.
Clearfield opens its season on Tuesday, hosting Bellefonte and Philipsburg-Osceola at the Bison Sports Complex.

Johnathan Bush, *Kenton Climie, Kenny Conway, *Dylan Graham, *Rico Longoria, Seth Maines, Nathan Ting, *Ethan Tkacik.
Andrew Angstadt, Matthew Bell, Robbie Carns, *Wyatt Flanagan, Seth Ford, *Alec Freeman, Hunter Keith, Christian Lezzer, Ryan Lingle, *Matt McKenzie, Matt Price, Jacob Ryan, *Tyler Stratton, Kyle Thompson, Jacob Verchick.
Grant Climie, Curtis Daub, Zach Hefferan, Nick Kovalick, Jacob Lansberry, Dennis Rougeux, *Jack Soult, *Jon Sponsler, *Casey Wilsoncroft.
Matthew Beichner, Jacob Bell, Bryce Craft, Samuel Evans, Jeremy Goodrow, Shane Graham, Nathan Lash, Austin Maines, Malav Patel, William Plyler, Corey Shimmel, Dakota Shimmel, Caleb Strouse, Nick Viehdeffer, Richard Ward, Jakob Wingate, Carter Wood.

Taylor Ammerman, Summer Blake, Emilee Brown, Becca Lindstrom, Kaylee Mulhollan, Kirsten Muirhead, Brianna Riddell, *Jessica Shomo, *Courtney Smith, Devan Sponsler, Abby Strouse, *Morgen Turner.
*Lauren Conrad, *Carlee Freeberg, *Jill Heichel, Elaine Jury, Courtney Patterson, Katie Powers, *Shannon Reinke, Devan Sinclair.
*Emily Aveni, Sarah Aycock, Brittany Blowers, Rachele Hale, Sarah Hale, Sarah Lash, Tia Lombardo, Leonie Masnick, Maggie Naddeo, Janessa Riddell, Catelyn Stockwell.
Macy Forrest, Rachel Glenny, Rebecca Glenny, Racquel Grice, Emily Hoover, Jonmarie Maines, Haley Maitz, Claire Mikesell, Eva Miller, Dariann Pastelok, Emily Ryan, Katelyn Ryan, Paige Spingola, Veronica Welker.

*Becca Johnson.
*Ciara Strickland, Heather Thorp.
Sarah Bailey.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.

26-Bellefonte, Philipburg-Osceola.
4-at Central Mountain; 6-at Igloo Invitational, Altoona, 9 a.m.; 9-at Bald Eage Area with Tyrone, 4:30 p.m.; 16-Huntingdon, Penns Valley; 19-at Bald Eagle Invitational, Lock Haven University, 2 p.m.; 23-Central; 30-at St. Marys.
3-at West Central Coaches, Altoona, 1:30 p.m.; 9-Hollidaysburg.
All meets begin at 4 p.m. unless noted.

Dotts Motor Company - 814-765-9681