After winning the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship last year for the second time in three years, the Slippery Rock women’s indoor track and field team aims to defend their title and prepare themselves for the next outdoor track and field season.
Under the leadership of head coach John Papa, who has been with the team for 31 years, they look to continue their success as one of the top teams in the PSAC, although it won’t be easy without a number of stars like Paige Kassab and Ashley West who graduated last year.
Papa says he is “very confident that we will be in the top three this season, with the potential to win.”
Papa says he will look to those returning such as senior Sabrina Anderson, who was an All-American and Conference champion last year.
He will also look to senior hurdler Kennedy Evans, who recorded a personal best time of 8.85 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles to place first at the Al Hall Freedom Games last season. Also contributing will be Junior middle distance runner Melissa Rains, who recorded personal bests in the mile, 800-meter and the 3,000-meter and placed first in the 800-meter race at the Edinboro Invitational, to lead the team last season.
They will also need help from new freshmen like Butler High School star Emily Horstman and transfer students like senior hurdler Jenna Bracken and sophomore distance runner Courtney Group.
Other returning student-athletes include junior Aerial Dukes, who helped SRU to finish second in the 4×400 relay at the PSAC Championships; junior Anna Frengel, who recorded five top-10 finishes last year; junior Caitlyn Janeda, who helped SRU place second in the Distance Medley Relay at the PSAC Championships; junior Maria Darling, who placed fifth in the pole vault at the PSAC Championships and senior Kelci Yale who recorded personal bests in the shot put and the weight throw last season.
Heading into their first meet this weekend, Papa says there are a lot of question marks with the new faces on the team, saying it will be “wide open for everybody.”
With losing many significant performers from last year, Papa hopes that this weekend’s meet will bring some hope to replacing those seniors, but he also believes that it is still too early to tell.
Papa, with the help of his coaching staff of Bill Jordan, Megan Shadek and Nathan Shadek, hopes to start the season off strong with the Youngstown Icebreaker followed by the Mike Kowal Multi Day in Edinboro this weekend.