Pinelands Regional Track and Field Squads Aim Higher This Spring
Sean Casiao inched closer to his goal last spring and this past winter, but hasn’t quite reached it yet. This spring, he intends to finally eclipse the mark he’s sought.
“I want to get to or break the school record in the high jump,” said the senior track and field athlete who is expected to lead the Pinelands boys team in various ways during the next eight weeks. “Rob Giglio has the record at 6 feet, 7 inches, and I believe I can get it this spring. I cleared 6-2 during the winter and I’ve done 6-4 in practice, but that doesn’t count, so I’ve got some work to do. And I’m going after it.”
In addition to his jumping prowess, Casiao is one of several seniors who may help the Wildcats rack up points in the throwing events as well. Ryan McAndrew and Kelley Lutz are the others, along with a slew of juniors: Drew Camacho, David Kohler, Chris Milano, Brennan Richardson, Ian Medform, Paul Lund and Nick Schano. Sophomores Jake Lucas, Johnathan Makar and Evan Burton also are expected to help the throws crew.
Meanwhile, expected to help Casiao score points in the jumps will be classmates Jarred Rheiner and John George, along with junior Caden Sundermann.
“We have some depth in the field events,” Casiao said. “And we have some good runners, too. We have the guts and the mentality to compete in our division this spring, and I want to see our team win some meets. We lost some close ones last year, but I think we have enough to win those this year. Everybody’s been working hard, and we’re trying to get there.”
Of course, competing for a Shore Conference Class B South title will take more than field depth. And that’s where the running crew comes into play. Jackson Liberty, Lacey – which returns to B South after eight years in A South – and Lakewood all will have capable runners and hurdlers in most events. The Wildcats will have to match them if they want to be in the hunt near the top.
In that regard, Pinelands will be led by a youthful group of distance runners, including Sundermann, Luke Mathis, Justin Schlatmann, Ryan Lutz, Tristan Pharo, Liam McGettigan, Pat Princiotti and Frank Aguilar. Senior Zach Reeves will be one of the Wildcats’ main hurdlers, and the sprinting duties will be taken on by Richardson, Schano, Burton and sophomore Andrew Chuderski and freshman Tim Zamora.
“I definitely think we can win some meets this season,” said head coach Don Angelini. “We have a more mature group, and some young guys who will do well. We have some depth in some spots, and it looks like we’re on our way to making some bigger steps this year. I’m excited about this team.”
On the girls’ side of the track and field, head coach Matt Fuller expects his squad to be competitive as well, despite youth and inexperience. Exactly how competitive they will be against some better teams in the division remains to be seen.
“We have a few seniors who are going to do what they do best, and the rest of it’s going to rely on a lot of young athletes,” Fuller said. “We’re trying to rebuild this program. We have a lot of sophomores and freshmen who are going to learn by being thrown into the fire. But that’s OK because it will make them better for later this season and the years to come.”
Among the leaders of the pack, senior Emily Roth will draw some of the focus since she’s been the premier distance runner the past few years. Classmates Callie DeMaria (throws), Tatianna Mickens and Dasey DiElmo (sprints) will be asked to carry quite a bit of the load in multiple events. But they won’t be alone, with junior jumper Susie Grelak, sophomore jumper Teresa Jeackel and sophomore thrower Jaycee DeMaria returning this spring.
Still, the young athletes are the ones who will need to pick up a lot of the slack in acquiring points. Fuller is expecting junior thrower Carly Jannsch, sophomore jumper Caylin Conway and freshmen Liz Makar (throws) and Sarah Keady (sprints/jumps) to make an impact fairly soon.
“Makar, Keady and Conway are going to help us a lot,” Fuller said. “But I’m really looking forward to seeing what Grelak does this spring. She had a great indoor season and has looked phenomenal so far.
“Our future certainly looks bright.”
— David Biggy