The first track and field notebook features the Pennridge boys’ team, highlighting Vinny Polignano and Ryan Sattelle, and also features CB West’s Lauren Hahn.
By DENNY DYROFF
The 2018 track and field season has gotten off to a good start for the boys’ team at Pennridge – actually, a very impressive start.
On March 31, the Rams captured first place in the team standings at the Third Annual Jim Kelly Invitational at Hatboro Horsham High School. The meet was named after Kelly, a former track coach and math teacher at the high school.
Pennridge won the team trophy with 61 points – just three points ahead of Wilson High from West Lawn in Berks County. Methacton placed third and the rest of the top 10 featured Suburban One League schools – Bensalem in fourth followed by Central Bucks South, Upper Dublin, Council Rock South and Council Rock North (tied for seventh), Hatboro Horsham and (in a tie for 10th place) Abington and North Penn.
At the Council Rock Kiwanis Invitational, which was held on April 7 at Walt Snyder Stadium in Newtown, Pennridge (106) placed second behind Central Bucks East (127). The top eight teams were all Suburban One teams with C.R. South in third followed by Pennsbury, C.B. South, C.R. North, Abington and Bensalem.
At the Kelly Invitational, Pennridge closed the show with a bang.
The Rams entered the final event – the 4x400-meter relay – trailing Wilson by two points. The Green-and-White’s foursome of Matt Eissler, Luke Eissler, Bobby Brashear and Anderson Dimond did what it had to do.
“We didn’t go to the meet with the intention of winning the team title,” said Pennridge coach Bob Hosier, who is now in his 35th season as the Rams’ head coach. “We went head-to-head with Abington in the 4x400. Abington is always good.”
The Rams crossed first with a clocking of 3:24.09. That time was not only good enough to beat Abington (3:25.47) – it was the fastest time in the state this spring.
“For this time in the season, it was a very good time,” said Hosier. “I didn’t think we’d run quite that fast. And, all of them are juniors.”
Matt Eissler also claimed the gold medal in the 1,600 with a meet record time of 4:25.29. The previous record was set by Council Rock North’s Bryan Keller at 4:25.93.
In other individual races, Dimon was fourth in the open 400 and Luke Eissler was ninth in the same event.
Pennridge also accounted for another meet record and “state best” when Vinny Polignano topped the field in high jump with a height of 6-5.
At the Kelly meet, both Polignano and Bensalem’s Elijah Rizzo (6-4) cleared a height better than the previous meet record of 6-2, which was set in 2016 by Bensalem’s Tommy Oliver.
Polignano also was gold medalist in high jump at the Kiwanis Invitational with a height of 6-2.
Additionally, the versatile senior placed second in the 110 hurdles at Kiwanis and fifth in the same event at the Kelly Invitational.
“Vinny has been very consistent at 6-3 and 6-4,” said Hosier. “He did 6-4 last year and went to districts (District 1 Class AAA Championships) and placed.
“His plan is to go to states (PIAA Class AAA Championships) in high jump this year. He’s also a good hurdler who is close to qualifying for districts.
“But, high jump will be his best event. He’s worked really hard with assistant coach Kevin Wills in the weight room and that has helped a lot.”
Polignano, a senior, is in his second season at Pennridge. His first two seasons were spent competing for Owen J. Roberts High in Chester County.
“Getting 6-5 was definitely a surprise,” said Polignano. “We didn’t do a lot of high jump training at the beginning of the season because we don’t want to peak until later in the season.
“I took two weeks off after the end of the indoor season. Having that time off definitely helped.
“When I jumped 6-5, it was a good jump. I usually have pretty good pop. It was warm enough that I could go fast and control the speed. But, my form was still a little ‘iffy.’
“I started high jumping in CYO track at St. Basil’s in Kimberton when I was in fourth grade.
“It’s been beneficial because I’ve had a lot of different coaches over the years. I think I have an advantage over other jumpers who start in high school because of that.”
Polignano views the two hurdles events differently.
“The 300 hurdles I just do for the team,” said Polignano. “I only do that event in dual meets to get points for the team.
“I really like the 110s. It’s good to break up the monotony. I’ve already shaved a second off my p.r. (personal record). My goal is to qualify for districts in the 110s.
“I got district time (Tuesday) in a dual meet against C.B. East. I just have to do it again at a dual meet or with a FAT time at an invitational.”
Polignano, who is a volunteer at the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, has already committed to compete for Lehigh University.
“I plan to major in international relations,” said Polignano, who already has studied Latin for five years. “One of the languages I’ll study at Lehigh will be Arabic.”
حظ سعيد (Good Luck! in Arabic).
Pennridge’s Ryan Sattelle returned home from the Kelly Invitational with a gold medal and a meet record in the triple jump.
Sattelle’s best jump of 44-10 allowed him to edge Spring Grove’s Noah Hayes, who was runner-up at 43-9. Both competitors topped the meet record of 43-2 set by Father Judge’s Jamal Cooley in 2016.
At the Kiwanis Invitational, Sattelle, a senior, won the gold medal in triple jump at 44-8 and placed fourth in long jump with a distance of 20-3.5.
“Ryan has come so far,” said Hosier. “As a freshman, we never thought he’d do this. He’s worked hard on his jumps.
“He’s very dedicated. In the indoor season, he did 45-10. The school record is 46-something and breaking that is one of his goals.”
Sattelle said, “My p.r. is 45-10, which I got indoors. My best outdoors is 45-6.
“I tried to jump in my freshman year, but I wasn’t good enough. The coaches had me running instead because I was overweight. I was doing the 100, 200 and 400. I’ve lost 30 pounds since I started track.
“In my sophomore year, I was jumping in meets but I still wasn’t a good jumper. Doing summer workouts after my sophomore year really helped.
“Getting the meet record at 44-10 was good but my coaches and I aren’t focusing on getting great jumps right now. We’re focusing more on technique.
“I’ve been working on my transition between phases – making them longer. I’ve been working on bounding drills and taking the first phase into the pit in practice.”
Sattelle did weight training over the summer.
“Now, it’s about technique and getting everything perfect,” he said. “My second phase is getting a lot longer. We work on approach every day – trying to be accurate with my step.”
Sattelle, who will attend West Chester University in the fall as a nursing major, has extra motivation for the post-season this year.
“Last year, I went to districts but I didn’t do well because I had injured my hip flexor at leagues the week before,” said Sattelle.
“I pushed a little too hard. I was really upset that I didn’t make states. But, that’s just given me more motivation to finish well this year.”
Another strong individual performance at the Kelly Invitational by a Suburban One League competitor was produced by Central Bucks West’s Lauren Hahn.
The Bucks’ talented junior won the gold medal in discus and the bronze medal in shot put. She also logged a 10th-place finish in javelin.
No-one came close to Hahn in the discus event. The veteran thrower topped the field with a throw of 107-2. In comparison, the runner-up distance was 96-0 by North Penn’s Kelly Gilmore.
“Throwing 107-2 was awesome,” said Hahn. “It didn’t even feel like I was trying that hard. It just came out of nowhere. I was already in first so I just went for it.”
C.B. West assistant coach Kevin Munnelly said. “The 107-2 was a p.r. for Lauren. That was a pretty impressive throw.
“Lauren is a hard-working athlete. Last year, her best throw was 99-0 on May 8. Between last spring and this spring, she’s worked on her strength.
“She is fast and she converts her speed to the element. She’s all about continually making herself better.”
Eric Welch, the Bucks’ throwing coach, said, “Lauren makes my job a lot easier. She’s got a great work ethic.
“She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen. She spent a lot of time with weight training. Now, she’s focusing on speed and agility.”
Hahn, who wants to major in conservation, zoology or biology in college, came into the season with a game plan.
“I changed my technique,” she said. “I shortened my approach and that gave me a better pop. I’m also throwing better because I did a lot of weight training in the offseason – a lot of lifting.”
At the Kelly Invitational, Hahn took third in shot put with a throw of 34-3.25 and 10th in javelin at 99-0.
At the Pirate Invitational, which was held at Palisades High on April 6, Hahn was the gold medalist in discus (104-9) and shot put (33-5.5) and silver medalist in javelin (108-2).
“It was a little cold at that meet,” said Hahn. “I got a little stiff.
“The 108 in javelin was a p.r. for me. Last year, my best was 104.
“In practice last week, I threw a 113. The difference is that I’m trying to use my legs a little more. In shot put, I’m not super great – but I’m trying my best.”
After playing a variety of sports when she was young, Hahn limited her sports at middle school to track and field hockey. She has continued with both and played varsity field hockey for the Bucks in the fall.
“When I started with track, I realized that I could throw and get points for the team,” said Hahn, who also spends time working as a volunteer at an animal shelter.
“I thought it would be a challenge and it’s worked out well. It’s so much fun – and there are a lot of nice people in the sport.
“I think this will be a very good season for me. I want to qualify for districts in all three throwing events and to make states in discus.”
Welch said, “Lauren has everything she needs – speed, agility, strength and mental toughness. I think the biggest difference this year is her confidence.
“At the end of last season, she got p.r.’s in all three events and realized that this is something she could really excel at.”
Munnelly said, “From her freshman year to now, Lauren has come a long way.”