Team gains traction with new coaches

Trevor Leard, Staff Writer

The Pitt-Johnstown women’s track team is gearing up for another year, but they may be missing one important element, a head coach.

The track team has two coaches at the moment who say they are sharing the job. Carl Keifer and Ernie Williams are standing in as the current coaches for the girls’ team.

The two said that they have no idea who will be the coach this year.

Keifer and Williams can be seen coaching the 21-member track team.

Both have been coaching for many years, said Keifer.

Keifer was as an assistant coach at the St. Francis University, Loretto, Pa. track team for the last seven years.

He helped coach all 18 events at St. Francis, and assisted the team in to Northeast Conference championships and three second-place finishes.

Keifer started his coaching career as a Pitt-Johnstown assistant coach in 1983, but left a year later to pursue a high school coaching career in both assistant and head coaching positions.

Williams has been coaching at Pitt-Johnstown and is in his third year. The two coaches replace Coach Jim Herlinger, who left the team this year and is not coming back, according to Keifer.

Having multiple coaches can mean a power struggle, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem, according to sophomore Erin McMahon.

“Our coaches now are really motivational and are always pushing us to be our best. So, even though we don’t have a true head coach, we have a team,” said McMahon.

The team, along with all of the Pitt-Johnstown athletic teams, is to enter the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, leaving the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and not only adding different teams but more competition.

“The (Pennsylvania conference) is better, but it also brings a full indoor track season with championships,” Keifer said.

“We’ve got five or six more girls this year showing up, which helps the team,” said Keifer. “It doesn’t matter if they have ever run track before, they are helping us get better.”

The times the women’s team members put up in the West Virginia conference championships last year does not stack up well against the times of the Pennsylvania conference championships.

The team who ran the 4×400 relay last year was in seventh place at the West Virginia championships, but their time would not have made the top 10 in the new conference’s championships.

The difference in the transition to the tougher conference doesn’t seem to faze team members that much, according to McMahon, and motivates team members even more.

“We are all really excited for it,” McMahon said. “Knowing we are going into a stronger conference is pushing us even harder than ever so that we can come into the (Pennsylvania conference) as strong competitors and a team to be remembered.”