December 12, 2008

Bloomsburg University 2008-09 Track and Field Preview

BLOOMSBURG- The Bloomsburg University men's and women's track and field teams enter the 2008 season with a monumental challenge in building a program up from scratch, a challenge that new head coach Bernie Empie knows will take some time.

"The biggest challenge thus far is trying to get all of the athletes involved without knowing for certain whether or not the event group is going to be offered," said Empie. "We are going to compete in every event, but we don't yet have all of the facilities necessary on campus to be as effective as we would like to be."

The opportunity to be a part of a team that is emerging from scratch has not dampened the enthusiasm for the new program, though. The Huskies could have a host of talented athletes ready to make an impact in the first year of the program. "When I first came here, I never imagined we would generate the amount of interest we have thus far," said Empie. "I was hoping that we could get 20-25 kids to come out for the team. But the response thus far has been tremendous."

Men

One strength of the men's team will be the pole vault. The Huskies have several talented competitors in this area. Look for freshman Adam Mowry (Maple Glen/Hatboro Horsham) and sophomore Mitchell Thompson (Jersey Shore/Jersey Shore) to lead the way. Mowry had a top vault of 14-6 in his senior year of high school, while Thompson hit the 14-0 mark as a prep.

The Huskies will count on two standout freshman in the hurdles, Joe Giandalia (Wrightsville/Eastern York) and Nate Snodgrass (Downingtown/West). Giandalia ran a 15.07 in the 110 hurdles at the 2008 PIAA Boys and girls PIAA Track and Field Championships, while Snodgrass ran a 51.44 400-meters in the Ches-Mont Championships in 2008.

In the throws, Marc Francola (Bloomsburg/Bloomsburg) takes a break from the Huskies football team to compete in the shot-put and discus. Francola finished third at the District 4 Championships last season with a shot-put of 50'9". He also has a top throw of 151'11'' in the Discus. In the javelin, junior Ryan Haas (Shillington/Gov. Mifflin) and freshman Kyle Allewin (Summerdale/East Pennsboro) will represent the Huskies. Senior Richard Canter (Fair Oaks/Quaker Valley) and sophomore Cory Palek (Shenandoah/Valley) will represent the Huskies in the discus.

Francola is not the only BU football player who will compete in track. Sophomore Brandon Mangran-Wright (Danville/Danville) and senior Marc Best (Bushkill/E.S South) will compete as sprinters. Sophomores Jason Conrad (Sunbury/Shikellamy) and Joe Illenye (Lincoln Park, NJ/Boonton) both return and will provide experience in the sprint events.

In the middle distance events, the Huskies will count of the trio of sophomore Jamie Waack (Leesport/Schullkill Valley) and freshman A.J Bull (Media/Penncrest) and Mitch Davis Media/Penncrest). Waack finished fourth at the Lock Haven Invitational last season in the 800 meters. Waack will also represent the Huskies in the heptathlon and decathlon.

In the distance events, Bloomsburg will rely on several standouts from the cross-country team. Senior Mike Dalton (Lake Hopatong, NJ/Pope John XXIII), junior Misha Litvinov (Drums/Hazleton) and sophomore Auston Martzall (Myerstown/ELCO) will be counted on for experience and leadership for a young team.

Empie hopes for a big move on the men's side. "I want the men to be able to break into the top 10 (in the PSAC) this season. Obviously that depends on what our competition does, but we feel like that would be a feasible goal for 2009."

Women

Freshman Katie Corson (Ocean View, NJ/Ocean City) and sophomore Erin Hanosek (Macungie/Emmaus) will lead the sprinters. Corson ran an impressive 63.19 for 400-meters at the Bison Opener to open the season. Hanosek took first place overall in the 55m and 200m at the PSAC East Track Challenge in 2008. "Corson may be our strongest sprinter right now. We are going to need both of them in multiple events," said Empie. Sophomore Laura Miller (Frenchtown, NJ/Delaware Valley) and junior Timera Bullock (Philadelphia/Manor CC) will also compete in the sprints.

Sophomore Ashley Mancil (Bloomsburg/Lock Haven) and freshman Julianne Spitzer (Chalfont/Central Bucks West) will compete in the vault on the women's side. Mancil, a transfer from Lock Haven, had a top vault of 10'6" last season for the Eagles.

In the high jump, freshman Hannah Becker (Chalfont/Central Bucks West) will need to carry the Huskies. Becker jumped 5'2" at the 2006 PIAA Girls' Class AA Track Championships. She will also be called upon to compete in the long jump and triple jump.

Freshman Jessica Dorman (Cedar Grove, NJ/Cedar Grove) will lead the way in the 400 hurdles and the intermediate hurdles. Dorman ran a 1:10.65 400 meter hurdles at the 2007 NJSIAA/Star-Ledger Group Championships in 2007.

The Huskies have the luxury of having six throwers. Junior Lauren Dyer (Perkasie/Pennridge) and sophomore Alyssa Benko (Catasaqua/Allentown CC) will lead that group. Dyer is expected to throw discus, while Benko will compete in the javelin.

Samantha Rhood (Downingtown/Downingtown West) will star 800 and relay events. Rhood anchored her Downingtown West squad to a third-place finish in the 4x400 relay at the Penn Relays. Juniors Shannon Hoffman (Watsontown/Warrior Run) and Angela Borealo (Easton/Easton) are also expected to compete in the 800 and 1,500 meters.

In the distance events, the Huskies will count on cross-country standout Andrea Kellock (Lansdale/North Penn). Kellock ran the second-fastest time in school history in the 5,000 meters at last season's PSAC championships, breaking the previous mark she set a the Penn Relays a few weeks earlier. She also earned All-PSAC honors in the 3,000 meters. Juniors Ashley Shuck (Milton/Milton) and Christa Johnson (Nescopeck/Berwick) will represent the Huskies in distance events as well.

Empie thinks it's realistic that the women could improve on last season. "I really think this team is poised to improve. We feel as if the women could definitely finish a spot or two higher in the conference than they did last season."

Outlook

Between the men's and women's team, Empie expects close to 70 athletes to compete this season. While that seems like a high number, Empie is enthusiastic about the turnout. "A lot of them came in as non athletes and the turnout really reflects upon how much they want to compete. I think this team has a great understanding of what our expectations are for them, but what they need to do as student-athletes to succeed."

Empie is trying his best to manage the burgeoning roster. "I think eventually we'll get to a point were we'll set a roster size, but that's not something we are going to do this year. We compete in 24 outdoor events, and we would like to have 2-4 athletes per event, so we are going to need everyone."

"Both myself and the team just need to keep working together, and we will continue to build this program and have success."