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Track and Field

From Milan to Moniteau: Exchange Student From Italy Helps Moniteau 400-meter Relay Team Break School Record, Win KSAC Crown

WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — They only came together as a relay team three meets ago.

(From left, Katelyn Reott, Rylee Long, Allie Pry and Camilla Passoni pose with the baton after setting the school record for Moniteau in the 400-meter relay Tuesday afternoon.)

One has made a name for herself as a swimmer. One as a competitive cheerleader and gymnast. One as a gritty basketball player. And one came to the team all the way from Italy.

Together on the track, though, they have found a perfect union for the Moniteau girls track and field team, one that resulted in a school record in the 400-meter relay Tuesday afternoon in a tri-meet against Redbank Valley and Clarion-Limestone.

The foursome of Katelyn Reott (the swimmer), Rylee Long (the competitive cheerleader and gymnast), Allie Pry (the basketball player) and Camilla Passoni (the exchange student from Italy) finished with a time of 52.8 seconds to snag the school mark.

It also helped the Warriors complete an undefeated, KSAC championship season for the second year in a row. Moniteau beat Redbank Valley, 101-48, and toppled Clarion-Limestone, 103-47.

“We switched up the relay halfway through the year because we were having some troubles,” said Moniteau girls track and field coach Sue Scialabba. “This was only their third time running together. I was really proud of them.”

When asked, the four aren’t quite sure what makes them work so well together. They looked at each other, shrugged and smiled.

What is evident is they are more than the sum of their parts.

Passoni had never run track before. Back in Italy, she was a swimmer and a gymnast until she gave up those sports to focus more on her studies.

In the fall, she joined the cross country team thinking it was track and field. She was in for a rude awakening.

Passoni frowns upon running long distances; she’s very much a sprinter at heart.

“I wasn’t very familiar with the sports over here,” Passoni said. “But I like track a little bit better than cross country. Distance running wasn’t really my thing.”

Passoni has taken quickly to the 400 relay and has meshed well with her three teammates.

“I was surprised about how good we managed to do on our handoffs so quickly,” Passoni said. “I knew they were running very fast, and I was hoping I could do my best to keep up with them. I’m glad our relay team has worked out pretty well.”

It’s been a whirlwind year for Passoni, who jumped at the chance to become an exchange student in the United States. She didn’t specify a state, and ended up in rural Western Pennsylvania.

It was quite the culture shock for her. She lives in Milan — the second largest city in Italy behind Rome and the home to more than four million people.

West Sunbury was a culture shock.

“This was different, Passoni said, smiling. “I thought there was gonna be less to do. There’s actually a lot to do and I’m very happy.”

Reott excelled in the pool this winter as an independent swimmer for Moniteau, placing fifth at the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships in the 50-yard freestyle.

She traded one form of sprinting for another this spring — but not without some pain.

“A little bit ago I got shin splints really bad,” Reott said. “Swimming didn’t help me prevent that.”

Reott, though, didn’t let that stop her.

“We all seemed to feel really good today,” Reott said. “And we had Redbank, who pushed us.”

Pry said she had a good feeling the record would fall Tuesday.

“I knew we were going to get it,” she said. “I wasn’t really surprised because we practice a lot.”

Long’s gymnastics career has prepared her for track, she said.

“What has really helped me get better at track was gymnastics because I did that for 13 years,” Long said. “It feels better to do well in track because I feel like I’ve earned it more.”

The relay team has some high hopes for the District 9 meet and beyond.

The focus Tuesday, though, was winning another KSAC championship.

“Back-to-back — it was kind of the goal at the beginning of the year,” Scialabba said. “We are young, so I wasn’t sure that it was a realistic goal, but then as we kept going in the season, we kept getting better and better. I’m really proud of them.”

Clarion-Limestone had a bright spot in Brooke Kessler, who won the long jump at 16 feet, 1 1/2 inches and beat Moniteau in the high jump at 4 feet, 11 inches.

Redbank Valley also got strong showings from Rylee Harmon, who won the 400-meter dash (1:02.3) and the high jump (5-1) against both Moniteau and Clarion-Limestone.

Harmon also ran a leg on the 1,600-meter relay that won for the Bulldogs.