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All-Area track and field: Coaches of the year have team-first attitudes at Parkland, Notre Dame-GP

Art Corrigan led Notre Dame-Green Pond to another stellar boys and girls track & field season in 2024, including a slew of PIAA medals. (Amy Shortell/첥Ƶ)
AMY HERZOG / THE MORNING CALL
Art Corrigan led Notre Dame-Green Pond to another stellar boys and girls track & field season in 2024, including a slew of PIAA medals. (Amy Shortell/첥Ƶ)
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There was no rebuilding project awaiting Stephen Ott when he took over in 2020 for longtime Parkland track coach Scott Levan.

The Trojans had great numbers on the boys and girls rosters and stellar talent in many areas. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed Ott’s tenure, but it has been an impressive start to his head coaching career. Neither the Parkland boys and girls have not lost a dual meet since he took the reigns (29-0).

Ott has developed many stellar athletes, but more importantly gotten everyone to embrace the team concept in a sport often viewed as an individual one. He has a long way to go, but Ott is following a blueprint that has made Notre Dame-Green Pond’s Art Corrigan a cross country and track & field coaching legend.

Corrigan has spent three decades building strong bonds between track & field teammates. The Crusaders boys and girls were 7-2 this season. The boys won the team title at the Colonial League Track & Field Championships. The girls were second. Corrigan’s resume, including cross country, is in the neighborhood of 1,900 wins so his formula is a successful one.

Because of the performances and the development of team-oriented programs, Ott and Corrigan are 첥Ƶ All-Area Track & Field Class 3A and 2A coaches of the year, respectively.

Parkland runners hand off during the 400-meter relay Wednesday, May 8, 2024, during the EPC and Colonial League Track & Field Championships at Whitehall High School.(April Gamiz/첥Ƶ)
Parkland boys and girls each qualified all three relays for the PIAA Track & Field Championships. (April Gamiz/첥Ƶ)

The results speak for themselves. Parkland rolled to the EPC South title this spring, then won the boys and girls team titles at the EPC Track & Field Championships. The Trojans also had 12 combined individual state qualifiers, but more impressively, all six relay teams advanced — with five winning District 11 Class 3A gold.

Parkland’s best athletes volunteer for heavy workloads in the postseason, including the relays. Andrew Beers, the Trojans’ leader because of his diligence and God-given talent, jumped into the Trojans’ state 400-meter relay team in 2023 when teammate Trey Tremba came up injured during the 100-meter dash qualifying.

Beers, one of the state’s elite hurdlers, didn’t hesitate again when it came time to jump on a relay team in an effort to win a team title and qualify more teammates the PIAA championships.

“He’s really helped us with our success,” Ott said. “He really went after that 4 by 4 success. You could see the determination. It’s really cool.”

Senior Lana Hurwitz was among the Parkland girls who was dedicated and instrumental in the team’s relay successes.

When Corrigan crunched numbers trying to figure out how to beat Southern Lehigh in the league tournament’s boys team race, he turned to senior leaders A.J. Sasso and Alec Miner — staples in the Crusaders’ 1,600 and 3,200 relays. Those two stellar 400 runners were shifted to compete in the 800 and 1,600 because it would help the team.

That bold gamble allowed the Notre Dame-GP boys to take a victory lap last month at Whitehall’s Zephyr Sports Complex.

“I had the two best 400 runners in the league, maybe in the district,” Corrigan said. “And I convinced them, ‘You’re not running the 400. You’re running the 1,600 and the 800, and it worked out. We scored 23 points in the 1,600 and 26 in the 800, and that was the difference [against regular-season champion Southern Lehigh].”

“[Corrigan] has all the numbers,” Crusaders mid-distance runner John Paul Pierce added. “He definitely goes to bed at 2 in the morning.”

Fellow Notre Dame-GP seniors Lauren Bower and Olivia Schweitzer dedicated much of their stellar careers to being contributors and leaders on the girls’ 1,600 and 3,200 relay teams. Both foursomes finished fourth at states.

Sophomore Savina Steele was introduced to the hurdles as a freshman. She accepted that challenge. She spent much of her training time during the season at Easton because Notre Dame-GP still has a cinder track, and cinders and hurdles don’t mix.

Steele also evolved in the 400, so she was happy to join the 1,600 relay team. She won District 11 2A gold in both hurdles, the 400 and 1,600 relay. She opted out of a hurdles race at states in order to stay with her relay teammates.

Notre Dame-GP had 13 individual state qualifier berths plus those four relays. The Crusaders didn’t leave Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium empty-handed, either. The two boys relays finished second. Miner and Sasso made the awards stand in the 800 and Steele was second in the 400.

“We obviously wanted to come out of it with the gold [in the state 1,600 relay final],” Miner said. “But we left it all out there for each other.”

That attitude has been a staple for the Parkland and Notre Dame-GP programs. It has been — and will continue to be — a focus of their coaches.

Morning 첥Ƶ reporter Tom Housenick can be reached at 610-820-6651 or at thousenick@mcall.com

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