Without a 2020 season, a lot is unknown about the Lackawanna Track Conference.
One thing is clear. The conference has plenty of talent in the girls division.
Five athletes selected to The Times-Tribune All-Region team return, which is unusual considering the one-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Headlining the group are a pair of standouts in Division II.
Delaware Valley senior Taliyah Booker, a Purdue University commit and star sprinter, had a rewarding albeit abbreviated indoor season that put her among the top-ranked athletes in the state.
In her last outdoor season, Booker won a fifth-place medal at the PIAA Championships in the 400 with a time of 56.79. She also won a silver medal in the 400 and the 200 at the District 2 Class 3A Championships.
“I am really excited for my senior year, because I have had only one other successful outdoor season,” Booker said. “I have a lot to put forward and to improve upon this season. I am grateful that I had a chance to run indoors, but I have bigger goals. I want to have all new personal bests.”
Wallenpaupack’s Anastasia Ioppolo emerged as one of the best all-around athletes in the district when she won three individual gold medals at the District 2 Class 3A Championships. As a freshman, she set a meet record in the long jump at 18-2½, won the triple jump and won the 300 hurdles.
“I can’t wait, because it’s been so long since we have been able to go to a real competition,” Ioppolo said. “We had a scrimmage and it just brought back everything and all the excitement from my freshman year. I have been doing really well so far in practice. It was tough, and I did slip at times, but I have stayed very motivated. I got into the weight room and now we are getting into the explosive workouts, so I am very excited.”
With those two stars, Delaware Valley and Wallenpaupack are expected to have the top teams in the balanced division. Delaware Valley, which has another NCAA Division I commit in jumper
Brooke Acoveno returning, and Wallenpaupack shared the crown with Western Wayne in 2019.
“Ever since we were freshmen we were successful,” Booker said. “I think we have a lot of new runners out too this year who are very determined.”
North Pocono’s Ashleigh Gutkowski is also a returning All-Region athlete in the javelin. She won a fourth-place medal in the javelin at the District 2 Class 3A Championships and won a gold medal in the javelin at the Robert Spagna Championships.
Cassidy Asinski is the leading returner for Western Wayne. She earned All-Region honors as part of the 1,600-meter relay team in 2019. She also placed sixth in the 100 and 10th in the javelin at the Robert Spagna Championships.
There are a pair of All-Region athletes returning and, of course, there remains “The Streak.”
Abington Heights’ Gianna Sabatini is a strong runner in the 800, but she is battling an injury to start the season. As a freshman, Sabatini won a District 2 Class 3A gold in the 800 with a time of 2:17.58.
She is one of the leaders for Abington Heights, which enters the season with 78 straight dual-meet victories.
Mariel Curra also returns for the Lady Comets. She finished 10th in the 100 hurdles and eighth in the high jump at the Robert Spagna Championships.
Abington Heights is the favorite in Division I, but has a very important crossover against Delaware Valley to start the season.
Valley View’s Brianna Zipay won a gold medal in the 1,600 and a fourth-place medal in the 800 at the District 2 Class 3A Championships and added a gold medal in the 1,600 and a bronze medal in the 800 at the Robert Spagna Championships in 2019.
Scranton is also expected to challenge in Division I with several standouts returning in the sprints and hurdles, including
Olivia Clough and Taliyah Smith, and a very deep distance running group led by Bella Noreika and Amelia King.
Lakeland won seven straight Division III championships and starts the season with 41 straight dual meet wins. However, Riverside is considered the favorite in the division.
The Lady Vikes return Paige Olanovich, who reached the finals and won medals in both the 100 and 200, Avery Meredick, who won medals in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and Madelynn Perfilio, who won medals in the long and triple jumps at the District 2 Class 2A Championships.
In addition, Riverside welcomes distance standout Lacey Danilovitz.
Lakeland is rebuilding with several new faces in the lineup. Seniors Kaylee Lorenzetti, Madison O’Donnell and Sydney Bryla and junior Skylar Arendt, who was an all-star in 2019 for the mid-distance races, will lead the Lady Chiefs. In addition, the team is counting on newcomers who helped lead the program to a junior high title in 2019.
Dunmore could also challenge. Senior Abby Springer earned LTC Division III-IV all-star honors as a sprinter in 2019.
Mid Valley returns Avery Rebar, who won a fourth-place medal in the discus at the District 2 Class 2A Championships last season.
Montrose, the defending division winner, is the favorite. The Lady Meteors are led by Lindsey Coy, who placed 11th in the 300 hurdles and 13th in the 100 hurdles at the Robert Spagna Championships. Tangi Smith is one of the top returning sprinters in the division.
Lackawanna Trail, which had a strong season in 2019, returns several athletes. Jordan Spencer finished ninth in the triple jump at the Robert Spagna Championship meet.
Elk Lake is led by distance standout Krista Jones, who finished second in the 3,200 at the District 2 Class 2A Championships. She is also a returning Division III-IV all-star.
Joby Fawcett has covered high school sports — including football, girls and boys volleyball, girls and boys tennis, girls and boys swimming, boys basketball, girls and boys track and field, and girls and boys lacrosse — for 22 years. The High School Sports Blog offers deeper insights plus statistical and historical information for fans and features photos, videos and graphics along with Top 5 polls for tennis and volleyball. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5367; @sportsTT