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Hornet runners should excel

The Emmaus boys and girls track and field teams will open up the 2013 season next week when the Hornets host Bethlehem Catholic on Thursday.

The girls team went 7-2 in the LVC last season, and while the team lost a number of participants from a year ago, a number of key pieces are returning as the Hornets again aim for the top of the standings.

Junior runner Hanna Brosky returns for her second season and will be one of the cornerstones from the girls side. Brosky - who came in first place in the district 800 meter run last season with a time of 2:15.78 - also had a key role in two relay teams (4x400 meter and 4x800 meter) that placed second in the district.

"She's a really great competitor," said head coach Shannon Petrunak. "For a first-year track kid to qualify for the state meet in one individual event and two relays is pretty impressive.

"We're really excited to have her a part of the relays. The relays are the highlight event in track and field and there's that opportunity to work with your teammates and try and shoot for a common goal together beyond the overall team aspect of the sport."

While each team lost a participant from last season, the majority of the sprinters return in search of a high finish in the relays once again. Senior newcomer Ester Younger figures to replace Kahli Castagnera in the 4x400 with Brosky, junior Annae Wetherhold and sophomore Alyssa Sopko. In the 4x800, freshman newcomer Katie Bacher will take over for Mikaela Dewalt and combine with Brosky, junior Ashley Moxey and senior Amber Csrenko.

Seniors Jessica Cole (finished seventh in district pole vault), Jessica Spayd (finished eighth in district shot put), and Arielle Iacocca (finished ninth in district long jump) are all returning to round out the girls side. Maria Justus, a junior hurdler, missed the district competition last season because of the Marine Corps Fitness Challenge, but will be participating in districts this season.

"Jess Cole is a senior this year so I think she's a little bit more confident in the event," said Petrunak. "She's gotten stronger and I think she's going to have a great senior year.

"Jess Spayd is looking really good right now. We're really excited about the possibility of her going to states and having a really great season."

While the boys side went 3-6 last season, the team will rally behind senior runner and team MVP Eric Jones, who had an impressive run in last season's district competition.

Jones came in second place in the district 800 meter run last season with a time of 1:59.48. He'll look to put forth a similar performance this season as well.

"If he can get to the states this year I think he is going to do much better because he is going to be better prepared for it," said Petrunak.

Junior Mason Burgess (T-14th in district pole vault) and seniors Micah Fick (15th in district discus) and Matt Kovalchick (24th in district 800 meter run) are all back looking to improve this season. Ja'Juan Mitchell, a transfer from New Jersey, participated in track and field in the past and is a newcomer to the team; he's expected to have a solid year too.

"He's [Burgess] a quiet type of leader," said Petrunak. "He's a nice kid to have to lead by example."