NEPA Sports Nation

Cusatis leads Cougars to title

By Tom Robinson,

HAZLE TWP. – When Matthew Cusatis learned of a new addition to the Wyoming Valley Conference track and field schedule, he liked what he heard.

Even before he found out that the first WVC Track and Field Championship Meet would be on his home track at Hazleton Area, Cusatis was excited about having another meet to test himself against many of the area’s top competitors.

Cusatis made the most of the new opportunity Thursday, earning three gold medals and a silver to lead all individual performers and to carry Hazleton Area to a 99-98 advantage over Northwest for the boys team title.

“I didn’t know it was coming to our school, but when I first found out about these championships, I was excited,” Cusatis said. “I thought of it as a whole extra day to compete, especially around local teams.”

In his final home sporting event before heading to Army West Point where he will play football, Cusatis led a championship effort.

“We were focused on getting points,” Cusatis said. “Everybody wants that plaque at the end of the day.

“Everyone wanted to contribute and put points on the board.”

Cusatis swept the jumping events and finished second in the 100-meter dash. He won the long jump with 21-5, the triple jump with 45-3 on his first attempt and the high jump with 6-2.

The top eight finishers in each event scored team points while the top three earned medals.

Hazleton Area’s title-winning effort also included three more silver medals and two third-place finishes.

Franklin Ritz was second in the 1600 and part of the third-place 3200 relay.

Joseph Mazaika, in the 300 hurdles, and Samuel Guzman, in the javelin, also placed second.

Connor Shamany was third in the triple jump, one of the events Cusatis won.

Northwest, which remained in the WVC in track and field when it left for other sports and switched from District 2 to District 4 membership, came within a point of the title with the help of four individual winners.

Oliver Heintzelman won the 1600, Derek Pierontoni the 800, Derek Dietz the 200 and Hunter Gmiter the pole vault.

Defending state javelin champion Drew Mruk led Wyoming Area to third place with 86 points.

Mruk threw the javelin 207-10 and also won the shot put.

Wilkes-Barre Area’s Jamory Lane Lee, who swept the hurdles, was the only other double winner individually.

Crestwood’s Jaden Shedlock beat Cusatis in the 100 and anchored the 400 relay, one of two relay wins by the Comets.

Other individual winners were: Holy Redeemer’s Jacob Hunter in the 400; Lake-Lehman’s Nick Hockenbury in the 3200; and Dallas’ John Cummings in the discus.

Berwick won the 1600 relay while Crestwood won the 400 and 3200.

Crestwood used the relay success to finish fourth in the standings with 74½ points, followed closely by Holy Redeemer’s 71 and Berwick’s 68.

The meet was the last competition prior to the District 2 Championships, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at Scranton Memorial Stadium.

“I think it’s great preparation,” said Cusatis, a state silver medalist in the triple jump last season. “The atmosphere is similar. A lot of people. A lot of teams. A lot of waiting around.

“Especially for the young guys on our team, I think it’s a great experience for them to have going into districts.”


Girls story: Crestwood team, PA’s Messner lead girls at WVC Championships – NEPA Sports Nation.

Results: Full team scores and top three finishers in each event. WVC Track Championships – NEPA Sports Nation.

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