Track team shows well at counties

Winter track

By: Jim Green
   Slowly but surely, the Lawrence High School track team is re-establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with.
   That process continued Sunday, as the Cardinals received several strong efforts from both their boys and girls squads at the Mercer County Indoor Track Championships. The Lawrence boys, who were shut out at the 2003 championships, scored 11 points to place 12th in the team standings, while the Cardinal girls, led by a shot-put victory from Devin Picott, took ninth with 12 points.
   "It really is starting to show," said Dave O’Neal, in his third year as Lawrence boys coach and first year as Lawrence girls coach. "Last year, the boys didn’t score at all, and the girls only scored in the shot put. From where I stand, I see a definite progression in both teams."
   The Cardinal girls again were buoyed by their fine group of shot-putters. Picott claimed first place in the event at 36-9 ½, while Janelle Fuller placed fifth at 29-7. The top six finishers in each event received a medal.
   "It was fantastic for Devin (Picott) and Janelle (Fuller)," O’Neal said. "I was really pleased with how they did. I was really pleased with a lot of things."
   O’Neal also was pleased by the throws of the Cardinal boys’ shot-putters. Frank DiMeglio and Bill Wolverton finished fifth and seventh, respectively, and DiMeglio’s personal-best throw of 43-9 ½ earned him a medal in the final county meet of his indoor track career.
   "The boys didn’t score any points last year, so to come out and score on the first event (Sunday) was really exiting," O’Neal said. "Frank (DiMeglio) was happy."
   Kyle Gafgen came through with two tremendous runs in his first county meet, placing sixth in the boys 55 dash (6.85) and third in the 400 (53.41).
   "Gafgen ran a fantastic race in the 400," O’Neal said. "He moved up to third place, and he was seeded sixth going in."
   Gafgen, a star wide receiver for the Lawrence football squad, has proven to be a huge asset in his first season with the Cardinal track team.
   "He (Gafgen) was a huge addition to the team this year," O’Neal said. "He’s a really gifted athlete, and it’s translated to the track."
   The Cardinal boys capped the day with a strong fifth-place performance in the 4×400 relay (3:49.09). Heading into the meet, the Cardinals’ relay team was one runner short because a member of the squad was suspended for missing practice. Mike Frascella, who had never run the event before, volunteered to take the suspended athlete’s place.
   O’Neal placed Frascella second in the relay rotation, behind Gafgen and ahead of Brian Scott and Andrew Dodemaide. O’Neal hoped Gafgen would be able to open a lead and Frascella would be able to keep the Cardinals in the race, allowing Scott and Dodemaide to carry them to a medal. And that’s exactly how it played out.
   "Mike (Frascella) did a phenomenal job," O’Neal said. "It was the most courageous run of the day. We won the heat and took fifth overall. That was a real great way to end the meet — to come away with a medal that was unexpected."