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New Upper Perk Track Coach Sees Promise in Teams
Written by Ernie Quatrani Correspondent
2016-04-06

Upper Perk runners, left, Evan Lutz and Eli Soto, right, took the top spots in the boys' 400 meter race last Thursday in the PAC-10 opener against Owen J. Roberts.

      The Upper Perk track teams were encouraged by their performances in last week's PAC-10 opening meet against Owen J. Roberts.

        First year coach Steve Keyser was pleased with what he saw despite both the girls and the boys dropping their meets to the Wildcats.

        "I think we had a good meet," Keyser said. "We have some young people that are coming up and showing us a lot of potential, which is exciting. I'm looking forward to continuing to get better."

        Senior Eli Soto, a participant in the javelin at states last spring, headlined the boys' efforts with wins in the javelin (158'1) and the 400 meter (54.3), barely nipping teammate Evan Lutz (54.4) at the finish.

        Soto also led the off the 4x400 relay team that included Lutz, Michael Felix, and Mike Stewart. The relay cruised to a win over 13 seconds ahead of OJR in 3:40.42.

        Eli had been battling a shoulder problem during the pre-season, but now feels "great". His javelin toss was 33 feet better than second place finisher Arnaldo Montagano.

        Soto is hopeful of building up to a successful postseason.

        "The main goal is states. That's a big goal for this year, and, hopefully, it would be the districts for the 400, too."

        Other winning performances were turned in by Matt Elderhorst in the long jump (18'4) and Christian Zera in the discus (117'10).

        Elderhorst, a senior, had an impressive day. He tied for second in the high jump (5'0) and finished second in the triple jump (35'1). He was also on the 4x100 relay with Austin Bittenbender, Felix and Colby Hetrick that was second by only .6 seconds.

        Sam Daub missed out on a win in the 800 by less than a second in 2:17.1.

        Felix, a senior out for his first season of track, was second in the high hurdles.

        Coach Keyser has been pleasantly surprised by Felix and others who are new to the program.

        "It's just amazing these kids that came out for the first time and how well they're doing."

        For the visitors, Vinny Polignano won two events.

        The Upper Perk girls did not have any first-place finishers, but got encouraging performances, especially from underclassmen, in several events.

        Sophomore Kayleigh Durning took runner-up in both hurdle events, finishing just over a second behind first place finisher Katelyn Bernatos in the 300 in 52.1.

        Gabby Martin (13.4) was less than a second behind OJR's Teneisha Myers in the 100, and soph LeeAnn Markwalter was runner-up in the 1600 (5:49.5).

        The 4x100 relay, Martin, Jess Schaut, Teresa Swartely and Hannah Leight, was nipped by .2 seconds at the finish with a time of 54.4. Swartley and Martin are juniors; Schaut and Leight are sophomores.

        Martin was third in the 200 meter (29.2), while senior Allison Ritting took third in the 3200 (16:15.6).

        Keyser continues to see improvement and noted that several participants did personal bests in their events.

        Jumping coach Kris Williams had high praise for Schaut and fellow soph Taylor Sottung.

        Schaut finished third in the long jump (15'2) with a distance that bettered her previous best by almost two inches.

        Junior Lydia Buckwalter finished third in the pole vault (6'6), and senior Brooke Zappo was third in the discus (70'1).

        Lea Wunderlich and Maddy Alvero won two events apiece for the Wildcats.

        Upper Perk is suffering from the annual numbers problems on both teams, which precludes winning any meets against the larger PAC-10 schools.

        The coaches and team members, however, are undeterred.

        "We're going to continue to get better and competitive. It's tough against the bigger schools. We don't have a lot of depth, but we have a lot of talent," Keyser said.

        "We can't really make up for the all the points that we lose, because we can't fill all the events. Everybody's positive attitude really helps," added Soto.


 

 

 

 

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