The Harper College women's track and field team begins their 2014 season on Saturday with an indoor meet at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. The Hawks tied for seventh place at the 2013 national meet and will seek to improve upon that mark this year.
Six talented sophomores return from last year's team, including Stephanie Chaires (Palatine, Ill./Christian Liberty), Marisa Andreuccetti (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Conant), Stephanie Hurwitz (Rolling Meadows, Ill./Fremd), Gabrielle Brosnan (Mount Prospect, Ill./Christian Liberty), Kaila Privatsky (/Barrington) and Cindia Salgado (/Wheeling). Harper will be strong in the 3200m relay again as three-quarters of the squad (Privatsky, Chaires, Andreuccetti) has already tasted success in the event, winning a national title in 2013.
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Hurwitz, who will compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m relay and 1600m relay, says she is looking forward to the upcoming season.
"I'm most looking forward to getting better, seeing PR's every week and performing well at nationals," she said. "This year, I definitely feel like we have a better chance to bring home more hardware than last year."
New to the team this year are freshman distance runners Lori Delfin (/Wheeling) and Mary Piltaver (/Conant), who both competed on the Hawks' cross country team in the fall that took sixth place at nationals. The Hawks also welcome four new sprinters in Taylor Lococo, Titi Robinson, Amanda Hagen (/Hoffman Estates) and Anna Lanier (Dominican Republic/Home School). Hagen and fellow freshman Lanier also show potential in the javelin.
"This year's team has experience and is enthusiastic but will need a few more women to cover the jumps and throws," said Harper head coach Renee Zellner, who led the women's track and field team to the school's first national title in a women's sport in 2011.
New to the coaching ranks this year is assistant coach Larry Cochrane, who replaces assistant Dale Ankele. He will work with the 100m and 200m sprinters as well as overseeing the weight training program and assisting in jumps, hurdles and the 400m. Cochrane was a standout hurdler who competed for Chicago State University.
Three-time cross country Coach of the Year Jim Macnider continues as the distance coach as well as assisting in other events. Distance coach Eric Wallor will also be working with the distance group.
The Hawks will compete in two more February indoor meets, the Chicagoland Indoor Championships hosted by North Central College (Feb. 14) and the North Central Cardinal Classic (Feb. 21).
The schedule for March features Carthage College (March 7), and the outdoor season begins with Augustana College (March 22) and the College of DuPage Invite (March 29).
In April, Harper competes at Wheaton College (April 5), the Chicagoland Outdoor Championships hosted by Lewis University (April 10-12), Concordia University Invite (April 17), Jesse Owens Classic (April 18-19-coaches select) and the Illinois Benedictine Twilight (April 25).
The final tune-up before nationals is a May 3 meet at Carroll University. The NJCAA Division III National Championship will be hosted by Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, N.Y. May 8-10.