Freshman phenom Courtney Kromko led Western Wayne's girls varsity track team to a stunning 76-74 Lackawanna League victory over highly-regarded Dunmore.

Western Wayne’s varsity track & field teams opened their ‘08 Lackawanna League season Tuesday afternoon by earning a split with Dunmore.

On the boys’ side of the ledger, the Wildcats suffered a 109-36 loss. However, the Lady ‘Cats pulled off something of an upset, handing the homestanding Bucks a 76-74 loss.

“To be honest, things are a lot better than I thought they’d be at first,” Coach Justin Collins told TWI Sports. “This year’s girls team is still very young. But, they’re an athletic group with a ton of potential. We’re setting some realistic goals and working hard toward those goals every day...taking things one meet at a time.”

Next up for Western Wayne is this weekend’s Icebreaker Relays. Wallenpaupack Area will once again play host to the event, which is slated for a 9:00 a.m. start on Saturday. The Wildcats’ next league meet is scheduled for Thursday, at home against West Scranton. That contest gets underway at 4:00 p.m.

Razor-Thin Win
Justin Collins is in his fourth year at the helm of Western Wayne’s varsity track & field program. In that time, he’s seen the good, the bad and the ugly in Varden. This spring, however, Coach Collins is genuinely excited by his talented young girls team.

On Tuesday, the Lady ‘Cats lived up to his private expectations, handing pre-season Division Two favorite Dunmore a 76-74 setback.

Courtney Kromko led the charge for Western Wayne, earning three individual goal medals and also running a leg for the winning 4x400M relay team. Just a freshman, Kromko posted victories in the long jump (15’4”), triple jump (32’9”) and 400M (1:03.2). She teamed up with Lyndsay Barna, Sarah Wildenstein and Shannon Nolan to win the 1600M relay (4:30.2).

“Even though Courtney’s just a freshman, she’s one of the hardest workers on the team,” said Coach Collins. “She’s already starting to reap the benefits off all that work. Courtney was even out practicing over Easter weekend. She has a very bright future ahead of her.”

While Kromko provides youthful enthusiasm and hope for the future, Kaitlyn Herzog is Western Wayne’s veteran team leader. A senior multi-sport athlete who also excels on the soccer pitch, Herzog has been named captain for the ‘08 campaign.

“We’re looking to Kaitlyn for leadership,” said Coach Collins. “She’s been with me all four years now, so she knows what to expect every step of the way. Kaitlyn is very versatile, so we’re going to be moving her around quite a bit. She’s like having another coach out there.”

Barna and Nolan also enjoyed a stellar meet against Dunmore. Lyndsay brought home two gold medals in individual action, while Nolan added one. A senior hurdle specialist, Barna broke the tape in the 100M high (:16.6) and finished third in the 300M intermediate. Lyndsay is expanding her horizons this year by adding the pole vault to her repertoire. On Tuesday, Barna grabbed gold with a 7’ effort.

Nolan is just a sophomore, but made her presence felt against Dunmore with a solid all-round performance. Shannon ran the second leg for Western Wayne’s victorious 4x800M relay team (11:00), then bounced back to win the 800M in a time of 2:46.5.

“Shannon Nolan is one of those younger girls who’s making an immediate impact,” said Coach Collins. “She’s going to play a huge role in the middle distance events. Shannon is another girl with a big upside. She has a great deal of potential.”

Other Lady ‘Cats who contributed team points to Tuesday’s big win include Sarah Wildenstein (300M hurdles, :49.4) and Rebecca Hinkle (200M, :29.1).

Tough Loss
Western Wayne’s boys track & field team took its lumps last year in a rugged Division Two. The Wildcats didn’t manage to break into the win column and finished off the regular season 0-6.

“We have a small, scrappy group of guys,” said Coach Collins. “We’re definitely young and we’re building for the future. I think the best thing I can say at this point is that we’re going working hard and striving to be competitive.”

Dunmore looks to be right in the thick of a three-team race for league honors this spring. Valley View went undefeated last season and is searching for a third consecutive Division Two title. The Cougars’ main competition should come from the Bucks and Scranton High.

On Tuesday, Dunmore opened up a big early lead, then cruised to an eventual 109-36 decision. The ‘Cats won just five events on the day, but made enough noise to generate a modest amount of enthusiasm.

Cody Yedinak was at the forefront of Western Wayne’s attack. A talented athlete who also stars on the basketball court, Yedinak has been honored as this year’s team captain.

“Cody is a hard worker,” said Coach Collins said. “He put in a lot of time in the off-season and it shows. I’m expecting a lot from Cody this year and I’m confident he’ll deliver.”

Yedinak dominated the middle distance events against Dunmore, winning both the 400M and 800M in impressive fashion. Cody posted a time of :53.5 in the former, which is just about where he was at the end of last season. He also dominated the latter, breaking the tape in 2:07. That time is just three seconds off Western Wayne’s school record.

Coach Collins also made special mention of Paul Rieutort, Frank Camp and Cody Leister. Rieutort is a junior sprinter, while Camp and Leister are seniors. Frank carved out a pair of third place finishes in the shot and discus. Cody ran the anchor leg for Western Wayne’s winning 4x800M relay team (11:32).