Patriots finding many ways to produce track & field championships

By Tom Robinson - For Sunday Dispatch - and Paul Sokoloski -

Pittston Area’s track and field programs produced major triumphs separately and collectively while competing in a variety of events in a seven-day stretch.

Both the boys and girls teams geared up for the postseason with an invitational that featured all the standard events, a dual meet with major title implications and a relays-only event that combines three of the usual events with three special medley variations.

When the stretch was over, the Lady Patriots had won a title, the Patriots had taken a major step toward one of their own and they had produced another with a joint effort.

The girls and combined championships came April 27 at the North Pocono Twilight Invitational.

The boys took sole possession of the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 lead by winning a first-place showdown at Dallas Wednesday.

The teams also competed in the 63rd annual Jordan Relays Thursday where Pittston Area runners got their first test of the season at Scranton Memorial Stadium, the site of the May 14 District 2 Class 3A Track and Field Championships.

A look at the past week:

Jordan Relays

SCRANTON – Pittston Area finished in a three-way tie for third place, just one point out of second place in Class 3A girls Thursday night.

Abington Heights won the championship with 46 points. Valley View had 30 points while Pittston Area, Wallenpaupack and Scranton had 29 each.

The Pittston Area boys scored 21 points to place sixth out of 10.

Pittston Area was the only non-Lackawanna Track Conference school to compete in the meet.

Jenna Smith, Mary Silinskie, Charity McLeod and Nicole Zambetti finished third in the closing 1600-meter relay in 4:16.96 and the Lady Patriots placed fourth in three of their other five events.

Silinskie, McLeod and Zambetti were each on two of those three fourth-place teams.

Pittston Area boys 88

Dallas 62

DALLAS TWP. – Alex Haas and the Patriots took another step toward securing the WVC Division 1 title by besting Dallas in one of two simultaneous battles of league unbeatens between the two schools.

Haas won the 100- and 200-meter dashes and ran on the winning 400 relay team while Jake Rutkowski led a strong effort by the Patriots throwers as Pittston Area moved to 5-0.

“It feels great,” Haas said. “We’ve been working real hard. I think we can do it. We came in here thinking we can do great and just work hard and succeed.”

Now, the Patriots are thinking championship.

They can clinch at least a tie for the top of Division 1 by beating rival Wyoming Area Tuesday. A make-up meet at Tunkhannock Wednesday provides a chance to win outright. A loss in either one of those meets would let Dallas and Hazleton Area, both 5-1, back into the title picture.

“We’re not there yet,” Patriots coach Jason Mills said. “You can’t take anything for granted. But it does feel good.

“This is a big hurdle.”

Philip Cocco led a sweep in the shot put.

Rutkowski and Walter Coles made sure Pittston Area went 1-2 in both the discus and javelin to lead a 25-2 advantage in the throws.

Rutkowski won the discus and had two second-place finishes.

Coles won the javelin on his way to a first-, a second- and a third-place finish.

Michael Mikitish (400), Nick Barbieri (300 hurdles) and Hunter Kraklio (800) added individual wins and Pittston Area took two out of three relays.

Dallas girls 78

Pittston Area 72

DALLAS TWP. – Dallas won the battle of unbeatens when it avoided a Pittston Area sweep in the final event, the high jump.

Abby Norwillo won the triple jump and pole vault for the Lady Patriots.

Charity McLeod (400), Andrea Ruby (100 hurdles) and Emma Coles (javelin) also had wins and Pittston Area won the 1600 and 3200 relays.

North Pocono Twilight Invitational

The wins at North Pocono represented the second time in two weeks that Pittston Area produced both girls and combined boys-girls championships. They did the same April 14 in the Icebreaker Relays at Wallenpaupack.

Pittston Area ran away with the girls championship, 139-89 1/3, over Holy Cross. The Patriots were second of 12 teams in the boys standings, behind only Lakeland, 115-105. The 244 points made Pittston Area

Charity McLeod led the way, winning the 400-meter dash in 1:02.20, running a leg on the winning 3200 relay and another on the second-place 1600 relay.

Abby Norwillo won the long jump with 15-4 and ran on the winning 400 relay team.

Nicole Zambetti finished first in the 3200 relay and second in three other events, the 800 and 1600, along with the 1600 relay.

Mary Silinskie joined Zambetti on both relays while Hannah Robbins was on the 3200 relay win.

Jenna Smith was on the 400 relay win and second-place 1600 relay.

Olivia Norwillo and Katelyn Wesp made up the rest of the 400 relay.

Shane Syms won the 300 hurdles in 42.19 and was part of a second-place finish in the 1600 relay.

By Tom Robinson

For Sunday Dispatch

and Paul Sokoloski

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at