Lakeland Track and Field: Girls Program History

                                 THE HISTORY OF LAKELAND GIRLS’ TRACK AND FIELD 

           

 

            Venturing into the great unknown, an eager Lakeland High School female student body quickly made track and field a popular and successful program. From the start, athletes worked hard and built a winning tradition that still stands today, having grown to becoming one the premiere small-school programs in the Lackawanna Track Conference.

 

            Beginning in 1975, Peg Garrick became the team's first head coach. She welcomed an amazing 150 students into the program for a sport that Garrick had little background in and even less equipment. The young Lady Chiefs didn't even have a track, but utilized the spacious parking lots and driveways that surround the school grounds at Chapman Lake. Lakeland's first girls meet took place against Fell High School and its head coach and longtime friend John "Lefty" Piatak.  At the District 2 Championship Meet, Leslie Kulick won a gold medal in the shot put and became the first Lady Chief to compete in the PIAA State Championships.

 

            From there, it's been all uphill.

 

            In 1976, Jackie Leonard placed fifth at the State track meet to win the program's first medal at the event. By 1979 the team would be taken over by Phil Tochelli and team title would follow. In his first season, Tochelli guided the Lady Chiefs to a 6-1 record and the Lackawanna Track Conference Meet championship. Patty Mikulak (100 hurdles) and Leonard (triple jump) each won fifth-place medals at the state meet and the girls were beginning to earn respect around the area.

 

            In 1980 and 1981, the Lady Chiefs combined to go 18-4 overall and added another Lackawanna Track Conference Meet Championship. They captured several district medals. Patti Sullivan set a school and district record in the javelin and Peg Cunningham set a school mark in the discus.

 

            Coach Brad Bowerman replaced Phil Tochelli as Tochelli took over the boys team; Bowerman coached the girls for three seasons (1982-'84).

 

            Lisa Ball took home a third-place medal at States after the 1982 season. Ball set two school records that season, including the high jump at 5-feet-8 and the 100 hurdles in 15.8 seconds.

 

            In 1985, Jim Perry became the Head Girls Coach.  More individual success, rather than team success, came over the next few years.  Sprinter Lori Speicher, who placed sixth in the 200-meter dash, and Amy Goodrich, who finished sixth in the shot put, captured State medals in 1985. In 1985, following in her decorated brother Bob's footsteps, Speicher was the best sprinter in the area, setting school records in the 100, 200 and 400.

 

            From 1986 to 1992, the Lady Chiefs crowned many district medal winners. High jumper Lee Ann Ball won a silver medal in 1986 and 1987, sprinter Chrissy Symanski and distance runner Renee Phillips each won bronze in 1986.

 

            Sprinter Brenda Ritzco won a bronze in the 200 in 1989 and a silver medal in 1990. Hurdler Kathy Feduchak won gold in the 300 hurdles in 1990 and Allison West struck gold in the 800 in back-to-back years ('91-'92). Jumper Kristen Loff grabbed bronze in both the triple and high jumps, at the District II Championship.  Then after years of frustrating defeat, Lakeland began a stretch of success that is unmatched.

           

            In 1993, Jim Perry guided the team to its first Lackawanna Track Conference championship. The Lady Chiefs upset Valley View and finished the season 7-1. They also captured their first Jordan Relays championship and finished second at the District 2 Class AA championships.

 

            Rewarded, Perry won Coach of the Year honors. His girls captured 14 District 2 medals, including gold in the 1,600 and 3,200 relays. Missy Steinruck won a gold in the high jump. Jill Earyes, Lee Mosley and Tasha Bochnovich won three medals each. Kim Corcoran (100 hurdles) and Becky Arthur (high jump) captured silvers and Heather Smith was third in the 400.  Earyes, Mosely, Smith and Ginger Chelik teamed to set a school record in the 1,600 relay at 4:19.6.

 

            In 1994 with most of their starting lineup returning the Lady Chiefs defended their Lackawanna Track Conference championship despite having to train on the parking lots and entrance and exit ramps because the track had been ripped up for improvements.

 

            By 1995, Lakeland's girls program had finally reached the level of the more celebrated boys team by winning their third consecutive Lackawanna Track Conference championship. Finishing with their first unbeaten season, the Lady Chiefs began a long winning streak and became the dominant team in girls’ track and field. Led by their powerful throwers, Tricia Strugala, Jen Baka and Teresa Blank, the Lady Chiefs placed third in the district meet. Jumpers Steph Perry, Kim Fortuner and Kim Corcoran were standouts and senior Jen Minelli had a breakout year in the sprints.  Lakeland dominated the All Star Team that year with seven (7) individuals and two (2) relay teams.

  

            In 1996, after again winning the Lackawanna Track Conference championship, the Lady Chiefs nearly won their first District 2 team championship. Perry won his second Coach of the Year award after a 9-0 season. Again, Lakeland's throwers dominated as Strugala, Blank, and Jodi Stephens each placed in the top 6 at districts in both the shot and discus. In the sprints, Laurie McAllister, Kendra Atkinson and Jen Vanderburg each placed in the top 3, Kim Corcoran and Carrielle Wiertel had big years in the hurdles, Sarah Sokoloski and Sharon Cardamone were strong in the distance.  Tricia Strugala was named Performer of the Year.  All stars included, Kim Corcoran (Hurdles), Laurie McAllister (Sprints), Sarah Sokoloski (Distance), Jodi Stephens, Teresa Blank, and Andrea Kopa (Field) as well as Steph Perry and Missy Steinruck (Jumps).

 

            The Lackawanna Track Conference championship went to Lakeland for the fifth consecutive time in 1997 as its winning streak grew to 30 straight. The Lady Chiefs scored in 15 of the 17 events at the District 2 championships, but again fell short of GAR. Steph Perry, seeded 12 in the Long Jump, placed 3rd, helping the lady Chiefs almost secure a victory.  Also scoring high that year were:  3200M Relay (2nd), Laura Krisa (2nd), Laurie McAllister (2nd) 100, 200, Kendra Atkinson (3rd)100, Tricia Strugala (2nd), shot put and discus, Jen Vanderburg (3rd) 400, Jodi Stephens (3rd), shot put, and the1600M Relay (1st) Atkenson, Tracey Casella, Vanderburg, McAllister

           

            In 1998, after winning 33 straight, North Pocono ended the Lady Chiefs winning streak. The Lady Chiefs managed to win the Lackawanna Track Conference Championship once again.  A series of injuries and illnesses hurt the team, but they still fought their way to a third straight second-place finish at the District meet.

 

 

            Another undefeated season came in 1999 as Sokoloski and newcomer hurdler Anna Mack led the team to a seventh straight Lackawanna Track Conference AA championship.

         Graduation and small roster numbers eventually began to wear on the program. In 2000 and 2001, the Lady Chiefs combined to go 9-12. Still, in 2001, Lakeland won the Lackawanna Track Conference, Div. II championship and Sonya Standefer won a PIAA State medal in the triple jump and was chosen to the All-Region team. 

            In 2002, Lakeland, despite having a young team, finished 10-1, again winning the Lackawanna Track Conference championship. Anna Mack set a school record in the 100 hurdles and became the area's first four-time All-Region selection.

  

            In 2003, after winning a Lackawanna Track Conference championship, the Lady Chiefs finished third at the District 2 Class AA championships, but were inching closer to the program's first team championship. Sue Bochnovich earned a gold medal in the 100-meter dash and led a young group of sprinters and hurdlers. Ashley Hughes, Trina Carito, and Darlene Chaykoski helped set a school mark in the 1,600 relay, while Bochnovich, Hughes, Casey Lisowksi and Danielle Calvert set a mark in the 400 relay that stood since 1978. Kindal Miller set a school record in the javelin.

 

            Finally in 2004, sparked by Bochnovich, Carito, Lisowski, Hughes, Rayah Yurkanin and Amanda Trczinski and straight off another Lackawanna Track Conference championship, the Lady Chiefs won the District 2 team championship. They needed 44 points over the final four events to cop the honor. Later that spring, Trina Carito became the program's first State champion by winning the high jump and The Times-Tribune named her the Performer of the Year for 2004 Perry earned his third Coach of the Year honor.

           

            Repeating in 2005 as both Lackawanna Track Conference and District 2 champions, Lakeland won 16 medals. Bochnovich won three golds. At the State meet, the Lady Chiefs 1,600 relay team of Bochnovich, Hughes, Lisowski and Carito ran a spectacular time of 4:00.86 -- the fastest ever run by a LTC team. Carito added a sixth-place medal in the high jump. 

           

 

            Another Lackawanna Track Conference championship followed in 2006, helped by two All Region Track and Field Team members, hurdler and high jumper Trina Carito and shot put and discus thrower April Doyle.  With Carito taking a (2nd) place medal and Doyle taking (3rd) place medals at the state meet.  Both girls had help from Amanda Trczinski with two, (2nd) place finishes (shot put and discus) at districts.

 

            The highlight of the 2007 and 2008 seasons were an All Region Track and Field Team berth for Kati Ashby (high jump) and April Doyle (throws).  Doyle set a District 2 meet record in the shot put.  She, also, went on to throw the shot for a (3rd) place at the State Meet. Ashby, also won an (8th) place medal in the high jump at the State Meet.

 

            It was a slow climb, but the Lady Chiefs have earned the right to share the honor of being one of the most successful girls programs in District 2.          

 

            Following Jim Perry’s retirement at the end of the 2008 season, Linda Stephens was appointed as Head Girls Coach for the Lady Chiefs.

 

         The 2009 season ended with a 4-2 record.  At the district meet, Regina Ryan added a silver in the pole vault and April Doyle again won gold in the shot put.   Doyle also added a gold in the discus.  April Doyle's cousin Tori, a freshman, got a silver medal in the 100H.  Sara Teeple added a 4th in the javelin and Ruth Butts scored a 4th in the 400.  At the state meet, Doyle added a 4th in the discus and a silver medal in the shot put.  She ended her career as one of the more celebrated throwers in district history.  Tori Doyle added a 5th place medal in the 100H at the state meet.

 

           The 2010 team finished with a 2-3-1 record. Tori Doyle finished with a gold in the 100H and a silver in the high jump.  Hannah Tuffy grabbed a bronze in the 300H.   The  4x1 team (Regina Ryan, Kristen Twardzik, Tuffy, and Doyle) won a silver medal.  Ryan added a bronze in the pole vault.  Doyle finished with an 8th place medal at states in the high jump. 

 

            In 2011, the team sputtered to a 1-6-1 record. Tori Doyle again lead the way with a bronze in the 100H and a silver in the high jump.  Sarah Larkin gained her first varsity medal with a bronze in the 200m and Hannah Tuffy ended her career with a bronze in the 300H.

 

        The 2012 season was a return to the winning tradition that the team had for years.  In its final year in Division I, the team went 5-2, grabbed a second at the Ice Breaker Relays, and won the Spagna Conference Meet.  The team was lead by an up and coming freshman prospect named Cassidy Jenkins, a veteran senior Tori Doyle, and a dominating junior named Sarah Larkin.  At the district meet, Jenkins broke the school record in the 100 hurdles for the third time with a time of 14.91, winning the gold medal.  She then dominated the 300 hurdles grabbing another gold.  Larkin added two silver medals on the day in the 100 and 200.  Doyle, competing in her final district meet, hurdled her way to a bronze in the 100H, won the gold in the high jump, and grabbed a silver in the pole vault.  Ashton Boyarsky (Long Jump - 4th, Triple Jump - 6th), Breann Clauss-Walton (4th - Shot Put), Alex Miller (5th - 3200) and Tia Newberry (4th - Pole Vault) were the other medal winners on the day.   

 


       The 2013 season Girls Varsity Track & Field led by head coach Linda Stephens and assistants Jim Perry, Jason Tochelli and Carl Fron completed the season as Division III Champions with a record of 6 - 0.  They continued their march forward with success winning Ice Breaker Relays and the Bob Spagna League Championship Meet for the second year in a row.  The team finished 2nd at Jordan Relays and AA District Championship where many of the team athletes medaled in their events  Kayla Agentowicz set a new school record in the 800 meters with a time of 2:25 breaking the previous record set in 1991 by Allison West. Cassidy Jenkins continued to break her own school records in the hurdles and was recognized as The Times Tribune athlete of the week in April 2013.  The Lackawanna League Division III & IV selected all stars for each track event with Senior Sarah Larkin gaining a berth in the 100 meter, Senior Ashton Boyarsky in long jump, Sophomore Cassidy Jenkins in the hurdles, and Freshman Kayla Agentowicz in the high jump.  Our 4x100 relay team, composed of Taylor Flynn, Cassidy Jenkins, Kayla Agentowicz and Sarah Larkin joined the ranks.   The girls' success was a contribution of collaborative effort of all of our track and field coaches.

 

     The 2014 team won the division once again going 6-0.  The team also won the Spagna Meet AA and overall beating all of the AAA teams.  They won the AA districts title with 118 pts scored.  It was their third district title since 2005.  Three athletes qualified for states: Madison Harding - High jump, Cassidy Jenkins - 100 and 300 Hurdles, Brooke Estadt  - Long Jump.  Jenkins also was the first Lakeland athlete to qualify for the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association Indoor Championships finishing with a 6th place medal in the 60- meter hurdles.  Head Coach Linda Stephens was named coach of the year.  All Stars for the season included Jenkins, Estadt, Harding, Buskovitz.