Pacers qualify for nationals

Published Jul 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm (Updated Jul 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm)

Four members of the Pacer Track Club qualified for the USATF national Junior Olympic outdoor track and field championships being held this week through July 28 in Greensboro, N.C.

Dani Prunzik of Upper St. Clair leads the list of participants. The 8-year-old daughter of Dan and Sandra Prunzik finished as the Region II runner-up in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

The USATF divides the nation into 16 different regions. Region II represents the entire mid-Atlantic, New Jersey, Niagara and Three Rivers.

Prunzik, as well as Phillip Markovitz, Danielle Konopleski and Alexandra Stevenson, qualified for regionals after successfully competing during the Three Rives local qualifier held at California University of Pennsylvania. In that local meet, Prunzik won the 100 and 200 and grabbed the bronze medal in the 400 run.

The third-grade student at Eisenhower Elementary School enjoys figure skating, swimming and basketball. She has an older sister, Kelly, 9, and younger brother, Justin, 5.

Meanwhile, Markovitz finished fourth in the 1,500-meter run with a 5:58.40 time. He added seventh in the 400-meter dash with a 1:23.24 time.

The 8-year-old son of Eric and Meredith Markovitz has two brothers, Joseph, 10, and Peter, 5. When he is not running, Markovitz enjoys soccer as well as snow skiing.

Stevenson and Konopelski each qualified in the throwing events.

Stevenson finished fourth in the discus with a throw of 34.51 meters or 113 feet, 3 inches while Konopelski followed in fifth place with a toss, measuring 100 feet, 4 inches. Konopelski also placed fourth in the javelin with a toss of 100 feet, 11 inches.

Both Stevenson and Konopleski are Bethel Park residents. They both also throw for the Bethel Park High School track and field team. As a sophomore this spring, Stevenson placed 10th in the state during the PIAA championships.

The Pacer Track Club offers both a spring as well as a fall season. In fact, registration for the cross country season is currently being accepted.

Adam Becker espouses about the benefits of participating in a club like the Pacers.

“It’s is a great way for kids to get in shape. Every season we watch the athletes grow.

“Some start unable to run half a mile without walking. Almost every child that comes to practice two or three times a week, for the duration of the (cross country) season, will be able to run a 5K when it is over. It’s amazing,” Becker enthused.

“But, maybe even more important than the physical improvement in the kids, is that they develop their minds, becoming more mentally tough and mature. When they run, they practice concentration and focus, and learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. These are strengths they can apply in all their endeavors.”

The Pacer Track Club’s cross country season starts Sept. 3. Fee is $35 plus USATF membership ($20).

Practices are held at 6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Gilfillan Trail, located off Route 19 between South Hills Village Mall and Upper St. Clair High School.

Boys and girls, ages 8-13, can participate. Experience is not necessary, but an affinity for running is a plus.

Most races are 3,000 meters or less than two miles. Meets are held Saturday and Sunday mornings. The Three Rivers Association Championships are set for the first weekend in November.

For more information, call Mr. Becker at 412-531-3406 or Steve Meddings at 412-851-1856.

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