Coming into his 31st season as the head coach of the women’s indoor track, along with coaching the men’s indoor track team, both outdoor track teams, and both cross country teams, John Papa has his eye on his 6th women’s indoor track PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) championship and 24th total.
Fresh off a 3rd place finish at the PSAC championships last season and a PSAC championship title in 2016, Papa expects the team to challenge for and win a PSAC championship this season.
“Yes, it is. We, you know, realistically, we have the ability to do that,” Papa said when asked whether winning the PSAC was a realistic goal for this season, “Some of the other teams might keep us from doing it but we’re going to work hard toward doing that.”
Senior thrower Anna Frengel, senior distance runner Caitlyn Janeda, senior pole vaulter Courtney McQuaide, sophomore sprinter Emily Horstman, and the injured senior hurdler Sophia Mazza are expected to be key contributors and leaders for this year’s team.
Frengel finished 17th in the weight throw and 10th in shot put at the PSAC championships last year with throws of 13.44 and 12.31 meters respectively. Janeda helped the Rock place third in the 4×8 and placed third in the 800 meters at the PSAC championships with times of 9:31.15 and 2:19.33 respectively.
McQuaide placed first in the pole vault at the PSAC championships with a season-best mark of 3.77 meters. McQuaide was invited to the NCAA DII championships and finished 16th with a mark of 3.62.
Horstman helped the Rock to a 4th place finish in the 4×4 and the 4×1 with times of 3:55.05 and 47.82 respectively at the PSAC championships. Horstman also placed 7th in the 200 meters and 2nd in the 100 meters with times of 25.58 and 12.40 respectively. Mazza clocked in with a season-best 9.08 in the 60-meter hurdles at the PSAC championships. All five of these women are also PSAC scholar-athletes.
The women’s indoor team opens this Friday in Youngstown, Oh. at the YSU Icebreaker before traveling to Edinboro, Pennsylvania for the Mike Kowal multi-meet on Saturday and Sunday.
“We have some new people and we don’t really know exactly what they are going to do, yet,” Papa said. “We think they are going to be pretty good, but we’ll get somewhat of a picture of that this Friday at Youngstown. This weekend will be a good gauge for where the program is so early in the season.”
The event that every one of the women on the team, and Coach Papa, are looking forward to is the indoor championships on the last weekend of February in Edinboro, PA. Papa hopes to take an indoor PSAC championship back to the Rock and build on it for the outdoor track season.
“The indoor championships up in Edinboro, the last weekend of February, is a big event for us,” Papa stated. “It’s like a midterm, so to speak, it gives us a really good idea. We see pretty much all the athletes from all the different teams will be there and we’ll get a pretty good idea of what we can do.”
After a potentially successful, individual and team, PSAC championship, the DII NCAA championship is being hosted in Pittsburg, Kansas and Coach Papa expects a handful of his athletes to be there. Regardless, the indoor PSAC championship will be a good mid-term for the women’s outdoor track season as the women go for their 12th PSAC championship and first since 2009.