CRANBERRY TWP — The long history of Seneca Valley track and field athletes performing at a high level was broken this spring due to the coronavirus outbreak.
One of the program's traditions, however, continued.
Tyler Mill and Ella Reynolds, who both graduated in May, were awarded the Seneca Valley Track and Field Marcie Peaco Memorial Scholarship June 1 at North Boundary Park.
The scholarships have been awarded for over 30 years. Peaco, the late wife of Seneca Valley head coach Ray Peaco, had her name added to the honor this year.
Mill and Reynolds both received $500.
“We usually take money made at the concession stand during the season and put it toward the scholarships,” said Coach Peaco. “Since there was no season, we had to dip into the reserves.
“In normal years, seniors on the team could submit an application and write an essay that deals with track and field,” he added. “From that, it was narrowed down to three boys and three girls and we'd conduct in-person interviews with all of them. We followed that process this year, except for the interviews.”
A committee of five to seven people, including Coach Peaco, makes the final decision as to who receives the scholarship.
Mill, a Zelienople resident, was anticipating a strong spring in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs after enduring an injury-filled junior campaign.
He did well in cross country last fall and during the indoor track season over the winter.
“I like indoor because it gives me more training before the spring season starts,” said Mill. “I was really excited. I had friends who went out and had great senior seasons the last few years and I was planning on doing the same. The fact that it didn't happen, it sucked.”
“Tyler was going to be one of our top 800 guys and would have played a key role on our 4x800 relay,” said Peaco.
Reynolds, who competed in the shot put and discus, said she was “heartbroken” over the lost season.
“I was seven feet from making the school's top ten (all-time) in the discus,” she added. “But there's nothing you can do.”
“Ella is a great thrower, but is also a true role model,” Peaco said.
Despite not being able to see her improvement this spring, Reynolds, a Harmony resident who will study at Temple University, is taking with her fond memories from the last three years.
“There is so much competition surrounding a meet,” she said. “You're competing with your teammates and with the other team.
“There's a lot of anticipation the day of a meet, waiting for it to start. You try to get a personal record and see how you did when it's all over.”
After the season was first put on hold, then canceled altogether, Peaco called each and every one of his 42 seniors.
“We talked about the good times we had and the resolve we needed to show through all of this,” he said. “It was a two-way street. They learned a little from me and I learned from them. We have mature people in our program.”
This year's essay tasked the applicants to describe how they would encourage a young person to join the track and field team.
“I focused on all the friends I made through track,” said Mill, who is headed to Kent State University. “Some of my best friends are younger than me and we never would have met if we weren't on the same team.”