Last updated: May 06. 2014 11:23PM - 1709 Views
By Bill Arsenault For The Times Leader

Berwick graduate Erica Szpynda is aiming for her third trip to the NCAA Championships with Widener.
Berwick graduate Erica Szpynda is aiming for her third trip to the NCAA Championships with Widener.
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Erica Szpynda was looking for a big weekend in the Middle Atlantic Conference Outdoor Track Championships and the Widener senior came through with flying colors.

Szpynda (Berwick) captured her third straight shot put title outdoors — and the fifth of her career — and also captured her first discus title. She hit 45-01 ¾ to capture the shot put by almost three feet. It was a little tougher in the discus, where her 131-11 was just four inches better than the runner-up. She was named the MAC women’s track and field Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“Erica had a phenomenal meet,” coach Kevin Cunningham said. “In the discus, she had a great competition between Ashley Ward (Misericordia) and her. Erica led after the first throw, Ashley had a bomb in her second throw to take the lead and on Erica’s final throw, with the title on the line, she pulls out a winning throw. Once again, she proved that she performs best when she is under pressure.”

A two-time NCAA competitor, Szpynda will now focus on the ECAC Division III Championship May 15-16 in Troy, New York. The NCAA Championship is set for May 22-24 in Delaware, Ohio.

“Erica will compete in the shot and discus at the ECACs,” Cunningham said. “She’s ranked as the top shot putter and is the 13th-ranked discus thrower. After that, it’s the NCAAs where she is currently ranked 10th in the country in the shot.”

BIG MEET FOR COLLEY Gavin Colley (Tunkhannock) helped the Widener men capture their third straight Middle Atlantic Conference title. The junior sprinter finished second in the 100 meters (10:88) and second in the 200 meters (21.89). He also ran the anchor leg on the 400 relay that not only finished first but broke the meet record with a time of 41.70.

“Gavin is running better times now than he was at this time last season when he qualified for the NCAAs in the 100,” coach Vince Touey said. “We look forward to watching him over the next few weeks as he implements the formula for success that served him so well last year and during the indoor season.”

Freshman Josh Colley, Gavin’s brother, chipped in by finishing second in the triple jump (44-08 ¾).

“Josh has turned out to be an integral part of our team,” Touey said. “His triple jump at the MAC meet qualifies him to compete at the ECAC meet.”

The Pride totaled 323 points and Touey was named Coach of the Year.

EASY VICTORY FOR MARSHALL – George Mason senior Mandissa Marshall (Crestwood) was competing in her first Atlantic-10 Conference Outdoor Track Championship but she had little trouble taking first place in the pole vault last Saturday in Amherst, Massachusetts. She cleared 13-7 ¾, more than a foot-and-a-half better than the field.

Marshall, who didn’t compete outdoors last season, had captured the Colonial Athletic Association title in 2011 and 2012. She holds the George Mason outdoor record (14-10 ¾) and will need to approach or better that effort down the road when she competes in the ECAC Division I Championship, May 16-18 in Princeton, New Jersey, and the NCAA East Regional, May 29-31 in Jacksonville, Florida.

She won the ECAC title in 2012 and was co-champion in the NCAA East Regional the same year.

The NCAA Championship will be held June 11 in Eugene, Oregon. Marshall competed in that event in 2011 and 2012, and earned All-American honorable mention in 2011.

D’ELISEO, ROBINSON SCORE – Freshman Ronald D’Eliseo (Pittston Area) helped the East Stroudsburg men’s team finish second in last weekend’s PSAC Outdoor Track Championships. He finished third in the 110 hurdles in 14.94 and was third in the 400 hurdles in an NCAA Division II provisional time of 53.59. He also ran a leg on the 400 relay, which finished third in 42.07.

Sophomore Ben Robinson (Tunkhannock) helped Lock Haven finish fifth. He was fourth in the 10k (31:41.77) and seventh in the 5k (15:08.90).

WENNER A BIG HIT – The Cedar Crest softball team won just one game out of 32 including a 1-21 mark in the Colonial States Athletic Conference but the Falcons got a big season out of senior Shannon Wenner.

Wenner, from Drums (MMI Prep), hit .438 (32-for-73) with six doubles, two home runs, 15 runs and a team-high 13 RBI. She also took a turn in the circle and posted a 1-1 record with a 4.17 earned run average in five games.

“I honestly can’t say enough positive things about Shannon,” coach Lisa McGuirk said. “She stepped up and played first, third and pitched during the season. Her tenacity, grit and dedication to improve and continue to elevate her game is to be applauded. Her fierce desire to compete and perform at a high level is something you cannot teach.”

The coach feels that Wenner’s desire and tenacity will make her a good coach. So much so that she will join the Falcons staff next spring as an assistant.

RUBASKY CHIPPED IN – The Concordia softball team finished 10-21 on the season but the Clippers won seven out of their last 10 and in the mix was sophomore pitcher-catcher Hannah Rubasky.

Rubasky (Nanticoke) spit catching duties and hit .269 (14-for-52), but was 8-for-20 (.400) in the final 10 games. In the circle, she was 7-7 with a 3.16 earned run average — but was 3-0 in the final 10 games.

“Hannah was our anchor,” coach Kathy Laoutaris said. “Her mental and physical toughness pulled us through a rocky start, and her performance in our last 10 league games speaks for itself.”

The Falcons didn’t have a senior on this year’s squad.

“Hannah is a great young lady and we are looking forward to her leading our young team in the future,” Laoutaris said.

POURMINIR FITS RIGHT INKeemiya Pourmonir (Pittston Area) is a starting coxswain with the second varsity 8 boat with the Coast Guard men’s rowing team.

“Keemiya gets better every time she goes on the water,” coach Colin Regan said. “In terms of her value to the team, given the nature of her job, she can have just as big an impact on the outcome of a race as an oarsman. In that way, she is important as any other member of the crew.”

It’s not uncommon for a woman to be a coxswain on a men’s team.

“They are more likely to be at the common coxswain race weight for men’s crew (120 pounds), so Keemiya being one of our coxswain is not that rare,” Regan said.

The Bears will be competing in the ECAC Championships this weekend in Worcester, Massachusetts.

BRENNAN HELPING OUT – Freshman Jessica Brennan (Tunkhannock) had a do-anything season with the PSU-Altoona softball team.

She saw action mainly as an outfielder but also did some pinch hitting and pinch running for the Lady Lions, who defeated Mount Aloysius 10-5 on Sunday to capture the Allegheny Mountain Athletic Conference championship.

In 19 games and 13 starts, Brennan hit .233 (10-for-43) with a double, triple, home run, eight RBI and 11 runs. She was three-for-three in stolen bases.

“Jess is a pleasure to coach and her positive attitude and work ethic are contagious,” coach Fred Caldwell said. “She has adjusted very well to the college game and has come through for us at critical times.”

The Lady Lions now advance to the NCAA Division III Regionals and will face Ithaca on Friday in Ithaca.

“One of Jess’ most obvious assets is her speed and she also has a perfect fielding percentage,” Caldwell said. “She will be an important part of our game plan in the NCAAs and in the future.”

KOZLOWSKI IMPRESSIVE – Franklin & Marshall freshman Ryan Kozlowski (Dallas) competed in his first Centennial Conference Outdoor Track Championships last weekend at Swarthmore and scored points for the Diplomats.

Kozlowski picked up five points for finishing fourth in the javelin. He was seeded second at 175-3 but bettered that mark to a career-best 179-11. He was seeded sixth in the triple jump and picked up three points for finishing sixth with a 41-08 ½ effort.

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