The Kutztown University women’s track and field program has a lot to look forward to this season. KU brings back nearly its entire roster that competed in postseason events last season, and now a year of experience under their belts, look to continue to propel Kutztown into the top-half of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
Head coach Ray Hoffman once again is running the show and he feels that his young team from a year ago is now primed to take the next step and continue to grow this season.
Hoffman enters his 21st season at KU, 13th as head track & field coach, and knows just how special this 2019 group can be.
“We’re pretty well-balanced throughout the program this year,” said Hoffman. “There may be one or two events that we don’t have that ‘impact-type’ performer, but I think as a whole we are pretty balanced. The majority of this group is young, but they were young last year, and our upperclassmen this year have been through it all and have had a lot of success for us.”
The Golden Bears feature two school-record holders in Kelly Groth (7.73, 60m) and Meghan Forsythe (57.62, 400m).
“We have some high expectations, but we’re not going to get too high or too low early,” said Hoffman. “We’re taking it day-by-day in training and working as hard as we can.”
Shippensburg is the defending PSAC Champion in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, including its ninth consecutive outdoor women’s title.
Trinity Ponton, also from the field hockey team, will be one of the top long jumpers. She recorded the ninth-longest jump (17-4) in program history in the first jump of her career at the Bison Invitational as a freshman.
Becca Hemingway competed at PSAC Championships last year and ranks sixth all-time in program history in the long jump (17-8). Shelby Samuels earned USTFCCCA All-Atlantic Region in the high jump as a junior and ranks fourth all-time at 5-5.75.
Freshman Taye Dairo has already made an impact on the collegiate level. She won the high jump in her first collegiate meet at a PSAC-Qualifying mark of 5-5, which ranks fifth all-time in KU history.
“This is a solid all-around group,” Hoffman said. “Top-to-bottom I think there is quality there.”
Ashley Petre is the top returning thrower. She earned USTFCCCA All-Atlantic Region honors in the weight throw last year for the third straight year, as well as garnering All-PSAC honors for the third consecutive season. She ranks sixth all-time in the weight throw.
Megan Kirn had a successful first year in the program last year, recording the second-best throw in program history in the javelin with a mark of 138-02. Junior Olivia Morano is another strong returner who placed in the top-10 at the PSAC Championships last year in the shot put.
This may be the most decorated group of the lot.
“Kelly [Groth] stands out because of what she just did [new school record in the 60m],” Hoffman said. “But we have three other runners that are also high in the ranks of the record books. Ashley [Stewart] is fourth in the outdoor 400m and second in the indoor. Meghan [Forsythe] has the school-record in the indoor 400m. Tishun [Graham] also, along with these three, were members of the 4×4 team that’s second all-time.”
Groth, Forsythe, Ashley Stewart and Tishun Graham make for an experienced and successful group.
Angela Iaccarino and Jerenita Sokan are two freshmen that Hoffman sees as contributors.
“We’re pretty deep there and it’s amazing to see that they are all still together competing,” said Hoffman.
Ally Tama, Katie Seegert and Abigail Zeger all return at the top of the lineup in the pole vault. Freshman Kathleen Silverman will join the mix this season.
Women’s cross country runners dominate this field.
The middle distance group (800m-3000m) will be Stephanie Bresadola, Erin Callaghan, Dootleen Joseph and Lindsay Hoffman.
A shorter base (mostly just 800m) is Julie Stratton, Julia Wiemken, Devon Montanari and Kiara Mayers.
In the further distances (3000m and up) primarily is Amanda Ferraro, Lindsay Smythe, Sarah Shannon, Katie Duguid, Lynne O’Connor and Alexis Dongvort.
Senior Joanne Mason has had a successful career at KU and began her final season off by placing second in the 60m Hurdles finals at 9.06, which ranks third all-time in program history last month at Lehigh.
Hoffman also said he wouldn’t be surprised if Kira Solt is one of the multi’s, but she is also a very good hurdler.
Kutztown opened the 2019 calendar year at its annual Golden Bear Invitational at the O’Pake Fieldhouse Jan. 11.
KU will also host its Last Chance Qualifier on Feb. 15 leading up to championship season. The 2019 PSAC Indoor Championships are set for Feb. 23-24 at Edinboro University, while the NCAA Championships on March 8-9 will be hosted in Pittsburg, Kansas.