Central Bucks South looks to prove it has a winning track program, again April 03, 2011|By Evan Burgos, FOR THE INQUIRER

There are teams, and there are programs. A team lasts a year, but a program endures across many.

This season, Central Bucks South will try to prove its program is a winning one.

A year removed from a second-place team finish at the PIAA Class AAA Track and Field Championships, South finds itself without five of its most valuable runners from a year ago.

It starts with Tom Mallon, who last year won his third straight state title in the 800-meter dash and is now running at Stanford. Graduation also subtracted South's entire state champion 4x100 relay team of R.L. Knuckles, Yacine Zerdoum, Tyler Dougherty, and Jon Eisemann. Ads by Google

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Every year with a new batch of guys, South head coach Jason Gable said, you always have to adjust how you approach the season.

Gable said his departed seniors from a year ago are the quintessential example. As sophomores, the relay corps of Knuckles, Zerdoum, Dougherty, and Eisemann was young and inexperienced. They were alternates on a roster that touted a senior relay team that went on to set a national record in the 4x800.

That group moved on, and up stepped another - poised to become the next great group of South runners. Last year's hardware secured their legacy. With the outdoor season on tap, Gable and South must see if they can do it again.

In step juniors Jim Gannon and Ryan Hynes and senior Rickie Pivri, whom Gable will look to fill in on the vacated 4x100 team. Seniors Austin Gregor and Joe Waddington serve a formidable distance tandem, while junior Ryan Dickson will run middle-distance events.

Those guys were just waiting last year, Gable said. . . . Watching and learning from [last year's seniors] - doing everything that they did. And they've, already, just stepped right into that role.

That includes assuming leadership roles. Gable speaks with optimism and said Pivri, in particular, has seized the role of leader.

They're ready to attack those roles and fill those big shoes, Gable said.

Chestnut Hill goes the distance. Dustin Wilson has plenty of individual laurels to rest on - the 2010 state cross-country championship, the all-American status in the indoor two mile, Inter-Ac league titles in three events last year.

But Wilson, for now, is willing to put all the individual endeavors aside. Chestnut Hill Academy has a distance-medley relay team worth pausing for - a team Wilson anchors and blossomed in a short time to compete with the nation's best.