The Rock’s indoor men’s track team will start their season this weekend as they travel to Youngstown, Ohio for the YSU Icebreaker on Friday and to Edinboro, Pa. for the Mike Kowal Multi on Saturday and Sunday.
Head coach John Papa will enter his 30th season as the head coach of the Green and White’s cross-country and track programs.
Papa says that the team will turn to a few new faces to represent The Rock this season.
“John Marenkovic (freshman) has had a lot of success as a distance runner in high school,” Papa said. “Success in high school doesn’t necessarily mean success in college, but he had a great cross-country season and if he continues to progress, he can help us in the long run.”
Freshman Ian Nieves was a high school state champion in hurdles at Milton High School. Papa says he will have to adjust to the three- inch higher hurdles in college compared to high school hurdles.
“It is a little bit of a different race in college,” Papa said. “But if he adapts quickly, then he will be very successful right off the bat.”
The Green and White will have a lot of the same faces returning this year, such as junior sprinter James Chandler and sophomore sprinter Collin Darby, who are both all-conference athletes last season.
Senior sprinter and conference champion Adam Leeper will be returning, along with junior distance runner Jeremy Parsons, who has had a lot of success in past years.
“We have a whole bunch of guys that did a lot for us last year who will be returning,” Papa said.
The Rock finished second in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) last year. The Green and White, however, will look to compete better with Shippensburg who gave Slippery Rock trouble last season.
“Shippensburg has been a team that has beaten us down lately,” Papa said. “Our intention this year is to give them a much better meet than last year.”
Papa says that Shippensburg had a lot more depth last year than The Rock, but this year Papa feels that the team’s depth has grown. The little things is also something Papa is constantly stressing to his players.
“We need to identify the little things,” Papa said. “Sometimes the little things are easy not to do because at the time they don’t seem significant, but if you do the little things over time then they become very significant.”
After this weekend the men’s indoor track team will be put on hold for winter break, but will resume Friday, Jan. 20th at the Youngstown State University Invitational in Youngstown, Ohio.