The Riverside High School boys track team finished the regular season undefeated in section competition for the ninth consecutive year.
That's way too long to be an accident.
"We're getting so good it's almost scary," Panthers coach Charles Kotuby said.
The 27-member team easily advanced through its semifinal bracket last Wednesday on its home track, defeating Avonworth, 111.5-38.5, Riverview, 116-34, and Burgettstown, 119-31.
As multi-year section champions, the Panthers are on the prowl for a WPIAL Class AA team championship. They will travel to Baldwin today to run against the other three semifinal winners -- Washington, Freedom Area and South Park -- to decide the championship.
The reason behind Riverside's dominance is the "circle of life," so to speak.
"We really focus on our young people so that when we graduate seniors, we don't lose too much. We have a really good junior high program -- we have probably 10 really good eighth graders [this year]."
Kotuby explained that the avoidance of a "roster cycle" was the reason the Panthers could put together solid track and field events year in and year out.
"We love relay teams," he said. "When you can win three, it's the best because that's a 15-0 team lead [in a dual meet]."
The Riverside 1,600-meter relay team was second on the latest WPIAL Class AA Honor Roll with a time of 3:29.93. The 3,200-meter squad was fourth at 8:34.10.
"We have a couple individuals such as Bobby Gould who has been dominant in the 400-meter run, the 200 and relays," Kotuby said.
Gould was also sixth on the most recent honor roll for the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.1 seconds.
"Shane Fisher is our other senior who is just dominant ... he has one of the best throws in the javelin and he has a very good time in the 110-hurdles," Kotuby said.
Fisher was second on the honor roll with a 171-foot, 7-inch javelin throw. His 110-meter hurdle time was third at 15.1 seconds.
Twins Aaron and Matt Tedys have also added speed to Riverside's sprints and relays. Both Tedys brothers were on the honor roll in sprint events. Aaron was 10th with his 200-meter time of 23.57 seconds. Matt was fifth on the 400-meter list with a time of 52.2 seconds.
Caleb Laduke was ninth in the 110-meter hurdles on the honor roll (16.0) and 15th in the 300-hurdles (43.8). In the high jump, Laduke was 13th with a 5-10 jump.
Austin Sheridan's 146-2 throw in the discus was ranked first on the honor roll.
Sometimes, Riverside gets so much talent in one event that the coaching staff is forced to "diversify" the athletes.
"Marcel Kleckley, a sophomore, was basically just a 400/800 runner but we needed an intermediate hurdler," Kotuby said. "He just really took to it, and he's running really well in the intermediate hurdles."
Kleckley ran the event during Riverside's 107-36 dual-meet win against Neshannock for a time of 41.7.
"We instill that we never ask what [the athlete's] event is. We tell them what their event is," Kotuby said. "It's tough trying to convince a sprinter that he can be an 800 runner."
But, as Kotuby explained, the first time a student has success in the 800, they tend to want more and more.
One Riverside runner who is never in need of any convincing is Adam Snowden. Snowden is a senior distance runner who holds down the 1,600- and 3,200- meter races. Snowden also competes in the 3,200-meter relay.
He placed 63rd out of 227 finishers in last November's PIAA Class A cross country championships, covering the 5-kilometer course in 17:46.
Kotuby reiterated that the Panthers were all about "passing the baton" to keep the team running.
"Our seniors are always helping out younger kids, working right alongside of them," he said. "There's such good camaraderie on this team ... we just incorporate it into our regular practices."hsother