It's Vincentian Academy's first season as a WPIAL track team and for 19 Royals athletes, it has been a huge step on the "journey of a thousand miles."
One of those athletes who is making a big name for herself in the team's debut season is Ally Bartoszewicz.
At last Friday's Baldwin Invitational, she won the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.22 seconds. She also won the 100-meter event at the April 27 Mars Invitational, an event in which 54 sprinters were entered. Her time was 12.42 seconds.
"Her times have come down dramatically," said Vincentian coach Dan Carlino.
He said Bartoszewicz ran a 12.68 100-meter dash in 2012, and has changed her starting block technique this year.
The events at Baldwin were encouraging. As the Royals headed to WPIAL individual qualifiers this past Tuesday, they rode the confidence of a rewarding regular season.
Junior Kayla Key took sixth place in the 200-meter dash at Baldwin with a time of 26.53 seconds. Key transferred to Vincentian this year after running for Westinghouse and attending high school at the City Academy for the Performing Arts. Key was the City League cross country champion in 2010. Her running talents have gone a long way for the Royals in cross country, basketball and track.
"She wants to run the 400 and 800 but with basketball going so late this year, we've been working with her on the 800 -- we're going to save that for next year," said Carlino.
In the meantime, Key has been scoring for Vincentian in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter events. Key is also a part of Vincentian's 400-meter relay squad, as well as a skilled long-jumper.
Senior distance specialist Kristyna Finikiotis has worked to shave almost 20 seconds from her 1,600-meter time this year. As a result, she placed sixth in the "McKinney Mile" race at Baldwin (5:22.46). She did that after she ran a 5:26.27 1,600-meter race at Mars.
"Her goal is to get under 5:20 to get to the state meet," Carlino said.
On the boys side, Ryan Archer finished ninth at Baldwin in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:48.22. His twin brother, Alex, was three places behind with a time of 9:55.19.
Although the making of Vincentian as a team has been the work of many individuals, the Archers had really pushed for it. Along with their parents, they got the athletic department and school president John Fedko involved. Vincentian applied to the WPIAL for approval to participate as a track team, and it was granted for the 2012-13 school year.
"Originally, the kids were only allowed to participate as individuals," Carlino explained.
This meant that at invitationals and the WPIAL championships, Vincentian's athletes could only participate in one event and could not do relays. Now, the team gathers each day for 5 p.m. practices at Avonworth's track.
Carlino noted that the Archer twins and their distance teammate, Andrew Koryak, have worked doggedly for their team this season.
"Those three have been working hard since indoor track started," Carlino said. "They're so dedicated it's insane."
A few of Vincentian's new track team members are new to track altogether. For example, senior Meg Sangimino recorded a 111-foot, 3-inch javelin throw for second place at Mars. This season has been Sangimino's first in track.
"She has always played soccer," Carlino said.
He noted that Sangimino tried track due to the influence of her friends.
With just nine girls and 10 boys, the Royals may feel that there's much to build for the future. But they'll never forget how they won their first meet.
"Our first meet of the season, the girls team actually beat Sewickley Academy and Western Beaver. They had triple the size of our teams and somehow the girls won. We were ecstatic," Carlino said.
Overall, the building of the Vincentian team has begun slowly but successfully.
"It's tough, but it's worked out every day better than I thought it would," Carlino said.