Citizens Voice Girls Track & Field All-Stars
After some discussion between coach and runner, one of the fastest girls in District 2 opted to sit out of a sprint at last weeks Class 3A track and field championships.
Nanticoke Area coach Jeff DeRocco had his sophomore Amiah Lukowski set to run in the 100, 200 and 400 and she was seeded second in each race. But they decided it would be best to keep her legs fresh and remove the 400 from her busy day, which also included a fourth-seeded spot in the triple jump.
I was supposed to run the 400 at districts this year instead of the triple jump because I didnt commit a lot of time to the triple jump, Lukowski said. She explained that skipping the 400 would save her for the 200 later on.
The move worked to perfection. Lukowski took second in the 100 but ran away with 200 gold. Then, she won the triple jump on her last attempt.
As Lukowski showed last Tuesday at Scranton Memorial Stadium, shes brought more to the table as a sophomore this season, even after a record-setting freshman year and a move up to Class 3A.
Shes now set to return to the PIAA Track and Field Championships on Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University, this time in two events as she continues to progress.
Shes just blessed with terrific speed and has been working hard out of the start in the 200 and really enjoys that race, DeRocco said. It seems like shes found a new love in some of the jumping events too, the triple jump being her favorite.
Lukowski said she wasnt sure what to expect of herself as a freshman, when she competed with the Trojans a little more for fun. She tried the triple and long jumps but didnt stick with them.
Then, the postseason came around and Lukowski made history.
The freshman broke the D2 Class 2A record in the 200 set by Hanover Areas Julia Laiuvara in 1992, in 25.74 seconds when she raced to the finish line in 25.69. She also took second in the 100 to Meyers Nalasjia Harris-Johnson, who last week won her fourth consecutive District 2 title in the event.
So, Lukowski has been fast from the beginning of her varsity career. DeRocco noted, though, that shes changed off the track this season. Shes taken track and field more seriously by researching the competition around her, for example.
Whos good out of the block and who has the top end speed that shes competing against, are things they consider when determining if Lukowski should perhaps skip a 400 to get ready for a challenging 200 opponent, DeRocco said.
Its really been a boost to our program with someone with her ability, he said, and I think shes starting to embrace her talent there and embrace what shes bringing to the program.
Lukowski said she felt higher expectations this season people would notice if she didnt perform well. Hard work throughout basketball season made her stronger and carried into the track and field season, where she continued to excel.
Her success at districts came despite the Trojans move to Class 3A, while they stayed in the Wyoming Valley Conferences small-school Division 2. The sprinters she raced against during the WVC regular season competed Wednesday at the Class 2A district meet; Lukowski, meanwhile, ran against an entirely unfamiliar field.
Its kind of hard because you only get one shot against them, and youve never seen them run before, Lukowski said. You dont know if they start off fast, or if they start off slow and get faster.
Without any mental notes tucked away, Lukowski simply ran her race and punched her second ticket to states.
She ran a 12.85 to take second to Wyoming Areas Jalen Rhodes (12.70) in the 100, won the 200 by .45 seconds in 26.01 and after a foul, and with one jump remaining took the triple jump by a quarter-inch with a 37-foot-3.75 leap.
Lukowski had never gotten even as high as 35 feet before, but she knew she had jumped far when her momentum made her fall into the sand.
I knew I had a chance in the triple jump. I never jumped over (34-foot-4) before, and my first jump was 36, she said. I dont know what I did differently.
Lukowski will need another career day to climb the state medal stand this week; shes seeded 28th in the 200 and 14th n the triple jump. Regardless of her outcome at states, though, its clear Lukowski only halfway through her varsity career can compete with the best either PIAA classification has to offer
Head coach: Boys: Zach Pientka. Girls: Jeff DeRocco
2016 record: Boys: 1-6 in WVC, 17th in District 2 meet. Girls: 1-6 in WVC, 10th in District 2 meet.
Returning state participants: Boys: None. Girls: Amiah Lukowski (100 meters, 200 meters).
Graduated state participants: Boys: None. Girls: None.
Athletes to watch: As the Trojans numbers continue to grow, theyll look for Tyler Thomas (jumps), Trevor Grohowski (distance) and Austin Urbanski (hurdles) to continue to improve in their events. Matt Wrubel (sprints), Christopher Thomas (mid-distance), John Guszak (throws) and Kris Seiwell (throws) are others to watch. Lukowski turned heads with two D2 championships in her freshman season and could have an even better year in store this time. Emily Scott (distance), Courtney Day (hurdles, shot put), Veronica Penko (hurdles) and Taylor Zabrenski (javelin) are other key athletes entering the season.