After winning the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference a year ago, the Slippery Rock University women’s indoor track and field team expects a strong defense of their title in the upcoming season.
The Rock will have the reigning conference coach of the year leading the team in head coach John Papa. This will be Papa’s 28 season at the helm of the indoor track and field team.
Under Papa, the women’s indoor track and field team has won four PSAC titles. Papa has won 19 conference coach of the year awards and 15 region coach of the year awards.
Papa coaches the distance and middle distance events, where he expects a lot out of his athletes.
“I certainly want everybody to be at their best,” Papa said. ”I hope the distance runners will be able to do better this year.”
Senior runner Janine Powis, coming out of an All-Region cross-country season, is eager to live up to her coach’s expectations.
“I’m really excited for this upcoming season,” Powis said. “We have another strong team and I’m hoping we will turn some heads this season.”
While Papa focuses on the distance runners, he relies on his assistant coaches to prepare the athletes for every other event.
Assistant coach Meagan Shadeck is in charge of the shot put and weight throw events. Her husband, Nathan Shadeck, is a volunteer coach who coaches the sprinters and hurdlers.
Finally, assistant coach Bill Jordan coaches the long, triple, and high jump events as well as the multi-events; the pentathlon and the decathlon.
The Green and White will also be returning five All-Region athletes from a year ago.
Senior Brittany Christiansen, juniors Kaitlyn Clark and Ashley West, and sophomores Sabrina Anderson and Ava Bonetti all earned All-Region honors last season in their respective events.
Christiansen earned a spot on the All-Region team by breaking the SRU weight throw record with her throw of 16.56 meters at the NCAA Atlantic Region Championships last winter.
Clark was the conference pole vault champion, earning the number one spot in her event and a well-deserved spot on the all-region squad.
West had the third best jump in the high jump competition last year at 1.67 meters. Anderson earned spots on the all-region roster in two events, the pentathlon and the high jump.
She had the best score in the pentathlon with 3,366 points and she matched West’s 1.67 meter high jump height. Finally, Bonetti ranked fifth in the region in shot put with a 12.59 meter throw.
Papa says that winning the PSAC title last year does not change their approach this year.
“We are going to train with the intent of repeating,” Papa said. “That’s our goal every year, to win.”
The Green and White will have to wait until the end of February to try and win another title at the PSAC championships, this year at Edinboro University.
Until then, the team’s focus is on their season opener on Dec. 5 at the Youngstown State University Icebreaker and the Kent State Multi Day One.