Monty Szukics ended his Palmerton Area High School track and field career with a sizzling senior season. Thanks to his talent and versatility, Szukics will now be able to look at the plaque that lists the school's track and field records and see his name on it five times.
Szukics set individual records in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, was a member of the record-breaking 400 and 1600 meter relay teams, and became the single season points record holder.
Those results earned him three medals at the PIAA State Championships, three District 11 Class AA gold medals and four Colonial League gold medals. It also earned him the 2012 TIMES NEWS Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year award.
Szukics ran a 10.71 in the 100 meters to better Ernie Rehrig's 10.9 set back in 1993. He followed that up with a 21.95 in the 200, snapping Austin Cseh's mark of 22.24 set in 2008.
Monty was also a member of the Bombers' 400 meter relay team that set a school mark with a time of 43.26, breaking the record set back in 1995 by Jake Smith, Travis Everett, Trent Everett and Jesse Rehus with a 44.1.
He also anchored the 1600 meter relay team that ran a 3:30.45 to break the 2008 mark of Seth Piccerillo, Austin Cseh, James Hunsicker and Thad Pitts of 3:32.99.
The most impressive record, however, was total points in a season, scoring 238.75 to break Bob Romig's total of 214 set back in 1978.
"It shows that all of the hard work I did in the off-season paid off," Szukics said. "Even though I wanted to do a little better at states than I did, I can't get mad at myself because I'm the fourth fastest in the state in two events.
"There was a lot of running to do and it was hot out there so it took a lot of energy out of you."
Szukics had to run five races in less than three-and-one-half hours on the second day at Shippensburg.
He chose to run the 100 and 200-meter dashes and the 400 relay at states and probably would have qualified for the 400 final if he would have chose that instead of one of the others.
Despite all of his individual medals, Szukics wanted to win the 400 meter relay medal the most.
"I'm just proud of our 4x1 team (comprised of Szukics, Dallas Miata, Travis Wolfe and Alex Vignone) because for the past three years we talked about making it to states for our friend Nick (Bickowski) and placing," Szukics said. "After districts when we won and knew we were going on to states, that brought a tear to our eyes because that made us so proud that we finally accomplished a goal that we wanted and we came home with a fifth place medal from states."
After not being able to run last year because he was sidelined with a labrum injury suffered during football season, Szukics ran in the district meet and won the silver medal. He was injured again this football season, but worked hard in the off-season, setting the goals high for himself after doing so well at districts a year ago.
Palmerton head coach Mike Gombert felt three things about Szukics' season stood out to him
"First was consistency. He was a consistent performer all of the way through, consistently running under 11 seconds in the 100," said Gombert. "He was also consistent in the times he ran in the 200 and in the 400 relay.
"Second was being unselfish. Monty earned the right at districts to run the 400 meters and there's a pretty good chance he could have won the event. But he instead decided he wanted to run the 1600 relay with three other boys. And that wasn't the first time he did that. If he would have been able to go to states in only one event, without a doubt, despite all of his individual success, he would have picked the 400 meter relay. Running that 1600 relay at districts to try and get three of his teammates to states just shows how unselfish he is.
"The third thing that stood out was the records. Look at the five school records he broke this year and some of the tremendous athletes that held them previously. His performance was astounding. Then he broke the Colonial League record in the 200 that stood for 27 years. That tells you something."
Szukics now will set his mind to the classroom when he goes on to either LCCC or Lackawanna Junior College. His times are on pace with some Division 1 runners and he wants to hopefully move on and continue his track career at a higher level.
"Wherever I go, I want to run track and I'm going to be training a year down at FAST in Quakertown, where I did this off-season," Szukics said. "I got the results I wanted to this past season and I feel combining that with lifting hard this summer, I can get better."
So don't be surprised to see Szukics in the fast lane somewhere down the road.