PA, Thank You And Goodbye

Maybe you started seeing my face at meets at the end of 2015 when I first started as editor of PennTrackXC. With a camera in hand, I did my best to immerse myself in the scene and cover the sport we all love to the best of my ability.

Over the last six and a half years, I have felt embraced and accepted within the Pennsylvania track and field and cross country community.

So, it's bittersweet for me to announce that my time at PennTrackXC and MileSplit has come to an end.

As a high schooler at Council Rock South from 2006 to 2010, I was a daily visitor of PennTrackXC, scouring the rankings, devouring every article I came across, and endlessly clicking through photo albums.

To eventually take over the editor role of a site that played such a pivotal role in my young life has been extraordinarily special. It's been nothing short of a dream job.

I was given the opportunity to take over PennTrackXC in late 2015. Lex Mercado, the previous editor, helped settle me into the role, and site founder Don Rich was supportive - and still is - every step of the way. I owe an immense amount of gratitude to Lex and Don. Don is truly the godfather of Pennsylvania track and field and cross country media. It's hard to imagine PA track and field and XC coverage anything close to what it is without him.

Taking on a state like Pennsylvania is no easy task. It's important to keep track of top performances from all over the Keystone State. As an unapologetic Philly area resident, it's been terrific having a talented team of photographers, videographers, and writers across the state to cover the bases in and around the commonwealth. Phil Grove has held down Western PA since before I came on, and he's played a pivotal role in coverage over the years. It's always a joy to follow his tweets, features, and interviews-and it will continue to be just that.

What has made this job a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has, without a doubt, been the community. Pennsylvania track and field and cross country is filled with some of the best people you will ever come across. From the dedicated coaches to the passionate parents, the amazing timers, meet directors, and officials, PA has a community unlike any other.

The community is what keeps the sport ticking in our state, and it's been a joy to interact with everyone throughout the cross country seasons, the long indoor seasons, and the all-too-quick outdoor seasons.

Of course, it would also be nothing without the unbelievable athletes. My favorite part of the job has been telling the stories of the high schoolers who make MileSplit worth clicking on. So many athletes have been so generous with their time to this reporter, who was sometimes maybe too quick to shove a camera in their face for a post-race interview.

When I first came to MileSplit, legends like Jordan Geist, Madison Wiltrout, and Chanel Brissett were chasing records and national titles. I was introduced to Thelma Davies, who went from never running track in her life to winning nearly every state title she went after in her career.

Then came Marlee Starliper, who torched the XC trails and track alike. Taryn Parks and Starliper teamed up to bring some of the most excitement we've ever seen at Shippensburg in 2019. I covered other state record holders like Josh Hoey, Chloe Timberg, Maria Deaviz, Ayden Owens, Kyle Garland, Ashlyn Giles, Talitha Diggs, Noah Affolder, and Jenna Mulhern, who dazzled every time they stepped on the track, runway or circle.

The last couple years I saw the emergence of Avery Lewis, who I could see being a household name in the not-so-distant future. This year I've seen Justin Rogers vault to heights no one has ever seen by a PA high schooler. Gary Martin has been rewriting the record books during his phenomenal distance career that is only just getting started. The excitement around each of Gary's races is unlike anything I've ever seen in my six-plus years covering the sport.

So now I bring my time at MileSplit to a close. It's been one heckuva ride, and one I'll never forget. I'm sure my face will still pop up at the track from time to time. I can't stay away for too long.

As always, PA Don't Play!

-Dan Beck