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Girls T&F team eager for season after year off

The 2021 Parkland girls track and field season will mean a lot to coach Stephen Ott, who as a first-year coach last year didn’t do much coaching.

“Excited,” said Ott when asked about what this year means to him. “I can’t wait for our first meet. Lots of planning and organization went into last year, and I was able to start implementing my changes as head coach. Unfortunately, our season was canceled after two weeks.”

Just how the unprecedented competition layoff will impact his girls is hard to figure.

“Indoor track helps us to prepare over the winter prior to the spring season, so we can hit the ground running,” he said. “Unfortunately, there were no [indoor] meets this year and the weather was tough.”

Still, the Trojan coaching staff has used the spring preseason to focus on technique and proper training.

“Our student-athletes themselves help to push one and another as well,” said Ott.

This track season, like other sports, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference dual meet season is broken up into county divisions. Ott pledges his squad will not take anyone for granted and will focus on improving their times, distances and heights each meet.

“The goal is to win each meet as a team and improve individually during those meets,” he said.

Ott, a personable and positive coach, is almost certain to inspire his team. He also has something else going for him - some talented athletes.

Parkland’s distance runners - Brooke Labenberg, Ava Bendetti, Emily Beers and Lauren Williams - are familiar names to anyone following Trojan athletics. Individually, each girl is a solid runner. Collectively, these seniors will make life miserable for EPC foes. Coral Shivok and Grace Nation - two juniors - are the top returning jumpers. Seniors Aubrey Semler and Aleigha Rodenbaugh and junior Melanie Lowe comprise the top sprinters. Look for Mikayla Woodring and Sonya Shivok to lead in throwing.

The Trojan pipeline is also gushing with recruits. Watch for Lana Hurwitz, Zoe Patselas, Jessica Price and Elena Wenger in distance running and sprinters Madi Seed, Madison Bowman, Gracie Trexler and Naeema Salau.

A scheduling note - there are only five dual meets on the Parkland schedule. That’s less than many other schools and less than normal.

“Our athletes are going to need to perform in those meets to qualify for the postseason,” said Ott. “You can’t be undefeated without winning that first one. That’s where our focus is right now.”

“That first one” is at 3:30 p.m. on March 31 at Allentown Central Catholic.

PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Brooke Labenberg is one of several talented distance runners on this year's Parkland girls track and field team.