William Penn Middle School track program gives young athletes a valuable early start

Hannah Avondoglio, left, and Mariah McKoy warm up for Monday’s practice at William Penn Middle School in Yardley. (Photo by Wayne Fish)

      Track and field athletes who excel in high school and college often do so by getting an early jump in the sport.

      That’s why the William Penn Middle School program in Yardley is so valuable to aspiring young athletes.

      By competing at the seventh- and eighth-grade level, these runners, jumpers and throwers get a comprehensive introduction to the do’s and don’ts of what it takes to reach their full potential.

      There’s lots of strategy involved and overall fitness is imperative. Learning these lessons early on can lead to success when these young hopefuls move up to higher, older competition levels.

      Head coach Lauren Trinsey, a native of Nazareth, Pa. with a background in both running and exercise physiology, makes it a point to combine both science and “fun” in getting her charges ready for the next step when they move up to Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills and beyond.

      “Anytime you can be committed, it’s going to help you in this sport,” Trinsey said recently prior to an afternoon practice at the school track. “Being consistent is probably the No. 1 way to see improvement.

      “I also love that they’re learning schedules, how to manage their time, priorities and making a commitment and then seeing that commitment through.”

      For some track and field aspirants, this is their first real participation in an organized program. By joining the William Penn team, they gain valuable experience both on and off the track.

      “A lot of these kids are learning the basics,” Trinsey pointed out. “For some, it’s their very first team sport. We just had our first meet. For about half the team, it was their first track and field meet. I have kids who aren’t sure what events they want to compete in. We’re still happy to teach them.”

      Before the afternoon workout, several athletes – including Jackson Coons, Hannah Avondoglio, Mariah McKoy and Tyriq Bolton – took a pause to talk about what they are learning and what hopes they have for their future plans.

      Coons, 13, competes in the 4×400 relay, high jump, long jump and shot put. One thing he’s learned so far is to not dwell on performances when things aren’t necessarily going your way.

      “Even if you lose a couple times or aren’t doing that well, you can always turn things around by winning,” he said. “I want to go to either Clemson, Penn State or a school that emphasizes sports.”

      Avondoglio, 14, who has already made her mark as a swimmer, decided to give track and field a try and runs the 800 meters, plus throws the shot put.

      “I think there are many life-lessons you can learn from sports,” said Avondoglio, who would like to go to Rutgers University for her college education.  “Sports give you a lot of grit and determination.”

      McKoy, 13, who competes in the 100 meters, 200 meters and hurdle events, also has been thinking about her higher education and considers Princeton University as a possiblity someday.

      Getting an early start in track and field can help the process.

      “I feel like it’s beneficial to do track,” she said, “because it keeps me in shape and you meet a lot of cool people in sports.”

      Like McKoy, Bolton, 14, also does sprints and hurdles. He agrees with his teammates that getting an early start in the sport can be beneficial in the years ahead.

      Trinsey, a Penn State graduate, enjoys watching these dedicated newcomers learn the ins and outs of track and field. Her assistant coach, Steven Pawson, is of a same mindset.

      And to have all of this take place at an early age for these athletes certainly can be helpful.

      “Any information skills, tools that I can give them to take with them onto the high school level, I want them to have a leg up on their competition,” Trinsey said. “They’re doing so well – listening and practicing; it’s the same stuff over and over and sometimes that can be really boring.

      “But that’s also really important, in addition to consistency, to improve your times and distances.”

      >Race calendar

      >Saturday

      Run, Walk, Roll 5K, 10 a.m., Tyler State Park, Newtown/Richboro. Contact www.biapa.org

Sunday

      Run for the Fall 3-mile Fun Run, 8:30 a.m., Penndel. Contact www.runsignup.com

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About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.