Honesdale should be right in the middle of the title chase in both boys and girls varsity track this spring. The Hornets opened the campaign with a big sweep of West Scranton.

Mike Jurkowski has every reason to be optimistic about the 2008 Lackawanna League track & field season.

Both of Honesdale’s varsity teams boast a solid mix of veterans and youngsters...a recipe that led to an opening day sweep of Division One rival West Scranton.

“Things went really well,” Coach Jurkowski told TWI Sports. “It’s obviously early in the season and weather conditions weren’t the best. I’m not sure that we learned a lot about where we are with times and distances. But, I’m pleased with the overall result. The kids are excited about the season and so am I.”

Honesdale’s girls dominated their meet right from the outset. The Lady Hornets took first place in all but one event Tuesday, rolling to a 119-21 rout. The boys were nearly as impressive in posting a 96-46 victory. The Hornets carved out a huge advantage on the track, winning all but two sprints.

Next up for the Red & Black is an appearance at this weekend’s Icebreaker Relays. This annual event is once again being hosted by Wallenpaupack Area. Weather permitting, the meet will get underway at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. Honesdale’s next Lackawanna League action is slated for Tuesday afternoon at Scranton Prep. That Division One encounter will begin at 4:15 p.m.

Pre-Season Favorite
The Lady Hornets recorded a 5-1 record last year in regular season action. And, with a large contingent of veterans returning for the ‘08 campaign, things are looking bright for Maple City track & field fans.

Despite the loss of four-time district shot champion Cassie Schweighofer, Honesdale’s prospects in field events look good. Why? Well, because of Devon Ritz’s emergence. A senior who labored in anonymity a year ago, Devon stepped into the limelight Tuesday with a pair of wins. Ritz wrought gold in both the shot (26’ 31/2”) and discus (71’), earning praise from her mentor.

“Devon did a very nice job for us,” said Coach Jurkowski. “She had the chance to learn from Cassie and Caitlin Keen. So, we’re counting on Devon’s experience to help us hold our own in the throwing events.”

Vanessa Bates led the Lady Hornet charge in the sprints. Just a freshman, Bates broke the tape in both the 100M (:14.6) and the 200M (:30.6). She was joined on the medals’ platform by teammates Collette Wilson, Corina Robbins and Sienna George. Wilson took first place in the 400M (1:03.5), while Robbins won the 1600M (10:09) and George the 800M (2:44).

“We should be very strong in the sprints,” said Coach Jurkowski. “Even our younger girls have a lot of experience. The best thing is that they’re so versatile. We’re never going to be locked into certain events for certain girls. We can move them around depending on who the competition is. That’s nice.”

The Lady Hornets should also dominate in middle and long distance races. Several key members of Honesdale’s District Two champion cross country team will anchor that group. Included there are the likes of: Lucie Henry, Kourtney Brussell, Erin Craig, Kara Brussell, Robbins and George.

On the Rise
Honesdale’s boys varsity team suffered through a down season last spring. The Hornets managed just a 1-5 Lackawanna League record in ‘07, but look to be back in the hunt this year.

“We look at last season as a learning experience,” Coach Jurkowski said. “It’s still too early to tell much about this season, but we’re working hard. This team is still pretty young, so we’ll have to wait and see. I’m hoping we’ll be competitive.”

On Tuesday, the Hornets rode the coattails of Steve Pachuta to a 50-point victory over West Scranton. A sophomore who will see action in four different events this spring, Pachuta rolled to three gold medals against the Invaders.

Steve led a 1-2-3 Hornet finish in the 300M intermediate hurdles, posting a winning time of :45.5. Pachuta then added victories in the high jump (5’) and triple jump (39’23/4”).

“I think Steve Pachuta is going to shine pretty brightly this year,” Coach Jurkowski said. “He’s such an athletic kid. We’re always looking for new ways for him to help the team. He’s definitely a four-event guy.”

Coach Jurkowski expects a trio of seniors to provide leadership this spring, both on and off the track. Jordan Thol, Tom McCurdy and Johnny Goodman will each find places to contribute for the Hornets.

Thol is back on the team for the first time since his freshman season. Jordan missed the vast majority of three years after suffering two devastating knee injuries. McCurdy brings blinding speed with him to the squad. A multi-sport standout who also stars in soccer and basketball, Tom should find a spot in the sprints. Goodman is also penciled in for appearances in the 100M, 200M and 400M relay.

Ryan Kelly tore up the track in both distance events Tuesday. A tough-as-nails junior, Kelly broke the tape in the 1600M (5:10.3) and 3200M (11:13.2).