Talented and deep.
In a nutshell, that was the Hickory girls track team in 2012.
And it didn’t take long for the Hornets to establish themselves as a favorite for the team championship in the PIAA Class AA meet.
Sparked by an unprecedented 1-2-3 sweep in the discus, the Hornets had just enough of a first-day lead to edge Swenson Arts & Technology, 73-72, for the championship trophy.
“People don’t realize how deep our team really was,” said Barb Dzuricsko, who shares head coaching duties with Mark Slezak. “Even though we had those top (performers), there were people that if they were at any other school, they would be winning things at that school.
“Those people just filled right in all of those places, even in our shot put. Our sophomore girl ended up being No. 3 (in the state) today, and she was always the No. 3 of our three. We always preach depth, and we’re just so excited for the kids.”
After the afternoon session of field events on Friday, Hickory had four student-athletes step up on the podium. As they have all season, seniors Lauren Lubarski, Taylor Woods and Jennifer Neider dominated the discus field in Shippensburg and got the Hornets off to a flying start.
“We always thought about the dream, just yesterday it finally came true,” said Lubarski, who led the sweep with a winning toss of PA#2 142 feet, 6 inches. “Every single track meet we’ve been to we kind of expected us to take 1-2-3. We just made it reality (at the state meet) yesterday.”
Lubarski unleased her season-best toss for the win, while Woods – the state’s longest thrower in the event – was the runner-up at 139-2 and Neider moved up to No. 7 on the state list with her third-place throw of 135-8.
“We are an extra eye,” Taylor Woods said of the teammates’ role in practice when their throws coach – and her father, Keith – is working with another athlete. “We all know how to do it and what we’re looking for in the throws. We know how to fix it so it’s nice to have each other.”
Neider, who started in the throws last year, said the trio knows what to expect out of each other and works together to get better.
“We definitely help each other out,” she said. “You have to push each other.”
Likewise, classmate Corrin Regginello gave the champions’ point total a big push by taking the high jump title, filling a potential scoring gap after Lubarski no-heighted at the district meet and could not defend her state crown. Regginello’s PR leap of 5-5 was the best of three District 10 jumpers at the top of the event standings.
Meanwhile, Neider and Woods were joined by another teammate – sophomore Sophia Fustos – in piling up 21 points in Saturday’s shot put. Neider, who finshed the season as the No. 2 putter in the state, went 45-1 for the win, and Fustos moved into the state’s top 20 with a 40-1 throw for third. Woods was fourth at 39-8.
Hickory’s haul in the field events also included Lubarski’s third in a top-notch javelin field.
“Even though he’s my dad, you have to give him props,” Taylor Woods said of her coach’s commitment to making his throwers better. “That’s constantly on his mind.”
Hickory’s excellence wasn’t limited to the activity outside of Seth Grove Stadium as distance runner Morgan Richards contributed valuable points to Hickory’s cause.
In Saturday’s first track final, Richards was timed in a PR 11:02.10 to finish third in the AA 3,200 run. About three hours later, she was back again, adding another six points with her third-place time of 5:01.43 in the 1,600.
The trophy carried proudly Saturday afternoon by the Hornets will become the second state title hardware in the school’s trophy case, joining the 1989 football state championship award.
“We will be enjoying this for some time to come,” Dzuricsko said.