Catie Gawlas began the 2013 track and field season dealing with the effects of a leg injury while knowing it was a vital time for her to show her abilities to college recruiters.
By the time she completed her junior season with the Dallas track and field team, Gawlas had made it all the way to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAA 100-meter dash semifinals, building a resume that paid off in cementing her future plans.
Gawlas joined three distance runners from the school’s championship cross country program among the track and field athletes who participated in a college signing ceremony in the Dallas gymnasium March 14.
While her college-bound teammates show off their endurance in track and field’s longest races in the spring, Gawlas attracted the interest of Duquesne University with her speed in the sport’s shortest events.
“Last year, I knew I had to push myself and get my name out there, so I could push for colleges,” said Gawlas, who won a District 2 championship as a sophomore and made it back to Shippensburg last year by meeting the state qualifying standard time in the event. “I knew since the beginning of high school that I wanted to run in college because it was something I really enjoy doing.
“It was really my year to stand out and I got some pretty good times.”
Gawlas and the other Dallas track standouts had actually made their commitments earlier.
Regan Rome, a four-time District 2 champion and two-time finisher among the top three in the state in cross country, accepted an offer from William & Mary University. Dominic DeLuca, an individual state cross country champion, is headed to Cornell University. Bryanna Dissinger, who joined Rome on the state cross country championship team, will run on the Division II level at Shippensburg University.
“It’s definitely a special group,” said Matt Samuel, the Dallas cross country and track and field coach. “They’re all special, but this one in particular has really accomplished some things athletically and academically. It’s a compliment to all of them.
“We’re blessed as coaches, and I know I am, to have these kids around.”
Gawlas helped promote herself, reaching out to Duquesne’s coaches because of interest in going to school in Pittsburgh and in Duquesne’s occupational therapy program.
In preparation for her final season at Dallas, Gawlas ran indoor track this winter. She joined Dissinger, Ally Rome and Lindsey Oremus in producing a 12th-place state finish in the distance medley relay at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association Indoor Championships.
Rome and DeLuca each finished second in the state at 3000 in the indoor championships conducted at Penn State.
Rome, who will study mathematics, decided Williamsburg, Va. was the place to head for college.
“It kind of fits everything about me,” Rome said of William & Mary. “It’s a team-first mentality. It’s a really good distance program. The academics are great. It’s a good balance of academics and athletics being important.”
Rome, who overcame illness and injury to lead the state championship cross country team, is feeling stronger going into track season.
“Things are really going well,” she said. “They have been the past few months.”
DeLuca’s commitment to Cornell was reported earlier in The Dallas Post and other media outlest.
Since then, he has been watching the success of the runners at the Ithaca, N.Y.-based Ivy League school, adding to the anticipation of his arrival there. A strong freshman group was part of winning the Ivy indoor track and field championship.
“It’s going to be nice to grow up with the team and build,” said DeLuca, who plans to major in applied economics and management, then attend law school. “With some of the top guys on the team being so young, it will be really nice to see how we all develop over the next four years.”
Dissinger made the switch from volleyball to cross country after her freshman year at Dallas. By the middle of her junior season, she started pointing to running in college. Her 15th-place finish in Hershey for a state medal helped in that process.
“Whenever I’m there, I really feel like I’m at home,” Dissinger said of the host site of the PIAA Track and Field Championships where she twice attended cross country camps. “I really love the campus.”
Dissinger plans to major in biology with a concentration on pre-physical therapy.