First Posted: 4/16/2014

A strong veteran presence, combined with promising new additions to the lineup, has the Lake-Lehman girls track and field team both in position to contend for titles this season and to build a base for the future.

The Lady Knights share the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 lead with Holy Redeemer and already hold an early-season win over Northwest, a team they tied with in last year’s meet to also finished tied with for second out of eight teams in the division.

That early showdown against Northwest turned into a 99-51 romp which indicated Lake-Lehman has the depth to pile up points in a dual meet and the top-level athletes to contend for medals and points on the district level and beyond.

“The future looks bright,” Lake-Lehman coach John Sobocinski said. “The first goal this year is to see if we can go out and win the league.

“From there, we’ll see what happens and try to get ready for the district meet.”

Junior Cayle Spencer is a returning runner-up and district place winner in all three throwing events. She was joined by freshman Emily Johns to sweep the top two spots in all three throws against Northwest, with Johns winning both the shot put and discus.

During the winter indoor season, Johns already had a shot put heave of greater than 39 feet, more than two feet beyond last year’s district championship effort.

“Emily has shown that she’s going to be one of the top kids in the district and, we also think, on the state level,” Sobocinski said. “We always want to seize the opportunity, like Dominic Hockenbury did last year.”

Sobocinski pointed to the distance runner on the boys track team, who earlier in his sophomore school year finished second in the state in Class AA at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Cross Country Championships in Hershey.

“We want to stop saying, ‘only a freshman’,” Sobocinski said. “She has an opportunity as a freshman, let’s go after it.”

The Lady Knights have managed to combine a veteran presence with emerging threats on each aspect of the team.

Defending district 100-meter dash champion Shoshana Mahoney, a senior, won four times against Northwest. She took the 100, 200 and long jump and anchored the winning 400 relay where she joined younger teammates.

Kaylee Hillard, who was sixth in the district at 1600 meters, and fellow senior Emily Sutton give the team strength in the middle distance events.

Sophomores Lindsay Pembleton and Julia Hutsko, district medalists in cross country, lead the distance crew. Pembleton reached states in the fall.

The middle distance and distance runners cross paths for the 3200-meter relay where they form a strong group.

“We have some nice depth in our distance events,” said Sobocinski, who will lead the team into its showdown with defending champion Holy Redeemer at home in the regular-season finale May 6. “Now, all of a sudden in the sprints, we have some of our younger girls coming along nicely and we’ve gotten some nice performances in the hurdles.”

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