Staying on track
CHERRY TWP — If Autumn Stewart is accustomed to anything, it’s competition.
The Moniteau senior was on the Warriors’ girls golf team in the fall. She was an effective player off the bench for the basketball team in the winter. She plays softball and is a thrower for the track and field team in the spring.
So her sport of choice for college was going go be ... well, nothing.
“I wasn’t planning on competing in any sport in college,” Stewart admitted. “I figured I would just concentrate on my education at that point.”
That all changed when first-year Slippery Rock University track and field coach Bill Jordan saw her compete in track and field. Stewart throws the shot put and discus, and an occasional javelin, for Moniteau.
“He told me about SRU and how he felt I could help the team,” Stewart said. “That’s a tremendous track program there and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it.”
Stewart recently signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and track and field career at The Rock. She plans to major in early childhood education.
SRU’s women’s track and field team won the PSAC Championship this spring, the 17th such title in program history and first since 2019. Jordan served as an assistant coach for 17 years under the recently-retired John Papa before taking over as head coach this year.
Stewart won the District 9 shot put title at Brookville last Friday and is headed to the PIAA Track ansd Field Championships at Shippensburg University this weekend. Her winning toss at Brookville was 36 feet, 0.75 inches. Her personal-best in the shot put is 37 feet.
She’s thrown the discus 99 feet, 2 inches.
“Autumn’s best event is the shot put,” Moniteau coach Sue Scialabba said. “I’m happy to see she decided to continue competing in college. It will be fun to see how well she does devoting all of her time to one sport.”
A third baseman in softball, Stewart has drilled a couple of home runs this season. She is hitting .383.
“It will be different,” Stewart admitted of competing in one sport next spring. “In high school, I go from a ballgame one day to a meet the next day, always bouncing back and forth between the two.
“Getting the proper time in the weight room, devoting time to working on technique, I’ve never had the time to do that. Now I’ll be able to concentrate on my throws and I am curious to see how much better I can get.”
Two former Moniteau athletes — Kendall Grossman in the pole vault and distance runner Hannah Burgoon — are already on The Rock’s track and field roster. So, too, are distance runners Ruthie Hughes (Seneca Valley) and Jennifer Cichra (Butler), jumpers Baylee Blauser (A-C Valley) and Katie Book (Slippery Rock).
“I’m thrilled for her,” Scialabba said of Stewart. “She’s such a determined athlete and that makes her fun to coach. She’s a great kid and now that she’s giving 100% to one sport ... That will be something to see.”
“All I want to do is keep improving on my throws and be a supportive member of the team,” Stewart said of Slippery Rock. “It’s close to home, so family and friends can come to the meets. I’m looking forward to it.”