Dallas has a nice start in trying to put together more championship track and field teams with the presence of distance runners who combined for three state medals last fall after the school’s boys and girls cross country teams both went unbeaten in 17 Wyoming Valley Conference meets.
As they try to repeat a WVC Division 1 boys championship and girls co-championship, the Mountaineers again have the athletes available to excel in the many events required for track and field success in the spring.
“You have to be well-rounded,” Dallas coach Matt Samuel said. “That’s what track and field is about with 18 events.”
Samuel will have large rosters with which to work while trying to fill all those events.
“We have a lot of people, more than we’ve had in a while,” he said. “A lot of them are younger, but we’re fairly well rounded and have some good athletes.
“We’ve got little holes here and there that we’re trying to fill.”
The Mountaineers already have some of the league’s most established performers.
Junior Regan Rome is the defending District 2 Class AAA champion in the 1600 and 3200 meters. She was third in the state in the 3200 and followed that up by also finishing third in the state in cross country season while leading the Lady Mountaineers to a second-place finish in Hershey.
Freshman Ally Rome, Regan’s sister, heads into her first varsity track season after also earning a state cross country medal by finishing 18th.
Dominic Deluca was 11th in the state to earn a cross country medal.
“Regan’s a pretty special talent, obviously, and she’s bringing along the other girls with her,” Samuel said. “It’s a mix. There’s no real pecking order after Regan, which is nice. A lot of them can pick up the slack for one another.
“The same could be said for the boys. Dominic Deluca is our number-one guy, but after that , we have a lot of guys who can do real well. They’re very supportive of each other.”
On the opposite extreme of the track events, Dallas returns Catie Gawlas, who won the district 100-meter dash title as a sophomore and finished third in the 200.
“She’s definitely our sprinting stalwart,” Samuel said of Gawlas, who excels in the two shortest sprints, but also can help the team at 400 meters, particularly for relays.
Drew Harding had the top district finish last year of any returning Dallas boy. He was second in the pole vault after clearing 13-3, a height Samuel expects him to exceed this season.
“He’s also a real good hurdler,” Samuel said. “We’re definitely looking forward to him having a good year.
“He’s very technically savvy, which you have to be in the pole vault. We haven’t had a lot of time with that yet because of the weather, but he’s doing everything else he needs to do to get prepared.
“I think he’s going to be even better than last season. He’s definitely a lot stronger.”
Courtlyn Van Deutsch, who was third in the district in the triple jump, returns and is also strong in the long jump.
Javelin thrower Liz Kravitz is one of the team’s other top returnees.
Ryan Kozloski and Jason Simonovich, who were fifth and sixth in the district javelin, return to the boys team this year. Samuel describes both as jumpers and throwers, who can also sprint.
“Those two guys are multi-talented,” he said.
Dallas had its scheduled opener at Hazleton Area, the team that shared the division girls title after a dual-meet tie last season, postponed this week because of weather. The new date has not been set, but Samuel said it will not be until after Wednesday’s home opener against Crestwood.
“I don’t mind going and competing, but I think it was smart not to do it now and get kids hurt,” Samuel said. “It’s a long season. We try to make it so we are at our best at the end of the season rather than burn our candle a little too quickly at the beginning.
“I don’t know if relieved is the right word about the postponement, but I was definitely OK with not having that meet.”