ON CAMPUS: Hurdlers help Grove City to title
• EDITOR’S NOTE: On Campus features area athletes playing college sports. This installment appears every week throughout the school year. If you know of anyone who should be included, email Mirza Zukic at email@example.com or call (724) 465-5555, ext. 267.
Four years ago, John Green considered giving up track and field. He wanted to attend firefighter school, he told his coach.
But the Ligonier Valley graduate had a change of heart, and four years later, as he wraps up his career at Grove City College, fourth-year coach Todd Gibson is sure glad he did.
“He decided he could go to firefighter school after college,” Gibson said.
Green, along with Indiana graduate Dane Mossgrove, scored critical points at last weekend’s Presidents Athletic Conference championships to help Grove City capture its first conference championship in five years.
An Indiana graduate, Mossgrove took fourth place in the 400-meter hurdles last Saturday to cap a strong sophomore season.
Mossgrove’s time of 58.32 seconds was his career best.
A sprinter/hurdler, Green placed third in the 400-meter dash in 49.3 seconds at the PAC Championships, and he finished one spot behind Mossgrove in the 400 hurdles, taking fifth in 58.38. Green also ran a leg on the Wolverines’ 1,600 relay team, which clinched their first conference title since 2009 with a fourth-place finish in the final event of the meet.
“John and Dane have each had great years,” Gibson said.
In a dominant senior season, Green posted top-five finishes in all eight individual races this season.
His season highlights include winning the 400 (49.57) at the Westminster Invitational on April 12, and the 400 hurdles (57.96) at the PAC Quad North meet on April 15.
Green added second-place finishes in the 400 at the Cal U Early Bird Meet on March 22, and at Slippery Rock’s Dave Labor Invitational on April 4.
The school record-holder in the 400, Green ran a 48.51 at the ECAC Division III Championships last season to take fifth place and set the new school record in the event.
He has qualified for the ECAC meet in each of his first three years at Grove City, and he “still has a great chance” to make it 4-for-4, Gibson said.
Also a regular on the Wolverines’ 400 and 1,600 relay teams, Green was a part of the school-record setting 1,600 relay team that posted a time of 3:21.60 at the national championship meet in 2011, when he was a freshman.
Green was homeschooled for three years before attending Ligonier Valley his senior season.
“He’s been a dominant 400 runner over the past two years,” Gibson said. “We kind of transitioned him from the hurdles to the 400. He anchors our (1,600- and 400-meter) relays, and pretty much any event we’d put him in, he’d run well.”
Mossgrove, who specializes in the 400 and 110 hurdles, finished in the top 10 in all 10 of his individual races this season, including four top-five finishes. He took fourth in the 110 hurdles (16.46) at the Westminster Invitational on April 12 to help the Wolverines take second place at the 15-team meet.
Three days later, on April 15, he took fourth in the 400 hurdles (1:01.51) and third in the 110 hurdles (16.20) at the PAC Quad North Meet, the final tuneup before the conference championships.
“Dane is probably the second-best hurdler in the conference, and we’re excited to see where he could end up,” Gibson said.
CHRIS CAROFF (Westminster, track and field): A freshman jumper, Caroff qualified for the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championships in his first collegiate season.
An Indiana graduate, Caroff showed steady improvement throughout the season in his main event, the triple jump. In two competitions during the indoor season, he didn’t crack the 40-foot mark, but during the outdoor season, he cleared 40 feet in four of five competitions, including a career-best jump of 41-6 at the Slippery Rock Open on April 17.
At the PAC Championships last weekend, he took eighth (40-3¼) to help Westminster to a second-place finish in the team standings. The Titans finished 3 1/3 points behind champion Grove City.
One of the highlights of Caroff’s season was a second-place finish at the Carnegie Mellon Quad Meet on April 5, when he jumped 41-2½, his second-best jump of the season.
Also a long jumper, Caroff had his best showing in the long jump on March 22 at the Juniata Invitational, where he jumped 18-8½ to place eighth.
SHANNON SMITH (Geneva, track and field): A sophomore distance runner, Smith competes in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs for the Division III Golden Tornadoes.
She qualified for the Presidents Athletic Conference Championships in the 1,500, and she posted a time of 6:15.55 at the conference meet last weekend, less than a half-second off her personal-best time in the event.
Smith dropped nearly 13 seconds in the 1,500 since the beginning of the season, and her best showing came at the Westminster Invitational on April 12, when she ran a 6:15.21.
Smith ran a personal-best time of 3:14.43 in the 800 at Slippery Rock’s Dave Labor Invitational on April 4.
An Indiana graduate, Smith also ran cross country for Geneva last fall.
BRETT MARABITO (Pitt Johnstown, baseball): After a less-than-stellar start to his season, Marabito finished the year on a tear to help the Mountain Cats earn a berth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs and earn a bid to the all-conference team.
An every-day outfielder who missed just two of the Mountain Cats’ 44 games, Marabito ranks fourth on the team with a .323 batting average (40-for-124) and 17 RBIs entering this week’s PSAC playoffs.
He finished the year strong, going 23-for-48 over the final two weeks of the regular season to raise his season batting average nearly 100 points during that stretch.
He was hitting just .224 on April 11, when UPJ welcomed IUP for the start of a four-game weekend set. Marabito went 13-for-17 in the Mountain Cats’ four-game weekend sweep of IUP to jumpstart his season. In a doubleheader in Indiana on April 12, he went 5-for-5 with six RBIs in the first game, and 4-for-4 with four RBIs in the second game.
Earlier this week, Marabito was named to the All-PSAC West Division second team. A junior, Marabito garnered one of the three outfielder spots.
The No. 3 seed out of the PSAC West Division, Pitt Johnstown beat Bloomsburg in the PSAC quarterfinals on Thursday. The Mountain Cats face Kutztown today in the PSAC semifinals after Kutztown eliminated Seton Hill, the PSAC West champion.