Gesecki's perfect storm
By: Jonathan Bombulie
Nanticoke Area junior takes fifth place in soggy 800
SHIPPENSBURG - As noon approached Saturday, a cold, steady rain began to fall at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.
And Nanticoke Area junior Abby Gesecki smiled.
Confident that she runs her best in inclement weather, Gesecki took fifth place in the Class AA 800 meter run.
"I love to run in the rain. It's refreshing," Gesecki said. "I think it's an advantage because a lot of girls don't like it. I'm used to it from cross country. I ran better today in the rain than I did in the heat yesterday."
Gesecki, who took eighth in the 400 meter dash as a freshman, seems to have settled in as one of the state's top half-milers.
She had the 10th-best time in preliminaries on Friday but improved by more than four seconds Saturday to move into medal contention.
"My sophomore year, I came in seeded fourth in the 400 and it psyched me out," Gesecki said. "Coming in seeded 10th, I felt like I had nothing to lose."

GNA’s Gesecki looks to 800
A highly versatile performer believes she has found her best event as states arrive.
By jpetrucci@leader.net

Abby Gesecki has competed in 11 events in her three-year varsity track and field career at Greater Nanticoke Area.

At practice on Tuesday, Gesecki took a shot at firing a starter’s pistol as teammate Thomas McGrady practiced the 100-meter dash. Not to worry, though, as Gesecki isn’t about to leave her running events and become a track official.

But it just proved how versatile Gesecki, a three-sport standout, has been for the Trojanettes.

Gesecki appears to have found her niche this year in the 800-meter run and will try to further establish herself in the event at the PIAA Track and Field Championships tomorrow and Saturday at Shippensburg University.

“I don’t know what I’m capable of,” said Gesecki, a 400-meter dash champion at the District 2 meet the past two years before winning the D2 800 title in 2:19.11 last week at Scranton Memorial Stadium. “I don’t now if I’ve pushed myself to the limit yet.”

A state qualifier for the Nanticoke cross country team last fall and a starting guard for the Trojanettes basketball team, Gesecki has participated in every running event except hurdles, the high jump and long jump, as well as all three relays.

Up until last spring, it looked like the 400, in which she took eighth at states as a freshman in 2003, was her signature event. That changed when she fell in a state preliminary heat of the 400 at Ship last May. Gesecki, who was seeded fourth in the event, was devastated.

“The pressure, I just overworked myself and went a little crazy,” she said. “As soon as I finished, I told myself I’m doing the 800 next year.”

A more than capable sprinter and state-caliber distance runner, Gesecki seems like a perfect fit in the 800, which requires equal parts endurance and quickness. In fact, Gesecki had to run home prior to practice on Tuesday to get her running sneakers for a 30-minute distance workout because the day before she had her spikes for a sprint workout.

“I think she has a better chance of becoming a state champion,” said Nanticoke girls head coach Connie Larson. “Last year helped her put everything into perspective. Her attitude has changed a lot. She’s more positive and more determined.”

There will be less pressure on Gesecki this time around at states as the 10th seed in the 800. She is one of 12 seeded runners who have broken the 2:20.00 mark and is about four seconds behind the top seed, freshman Benita Carver of Carter Engineering and Science.

In the 800 this year, Gesecki’s strategy has consisted of allowing another runner to set the pace on the first lap and the Nanticoke junior then decides how much she has left for the final 400 meters before making her move. She will likely continue that strategy this weekend, although she is still eager to find out what kind of hardware her final kick in the 800 can bring her.

“It’s good to have a little distance and a little sprint in you,” she said.

Trojan Sports