May 1—Before his freshman year at Riverview, John Patsey assured himself and his teammates and coaches that he wanted to pursue both baseball and track and field at the varsity level during the spring competition season.
Now, as a sophomore, the Raiders standout is making his mark in both sports with playoff opportunities on the horizon and more accolades to be had.
“Ever since elementary school, I’ve wanted to do track,” said Patsey, who has developed into one of the top 300-meter hurdlers in WPIAL Class AA.
He also is a key part of the Riverview baseball team at pitcher, in center field and at the plate. The Raiders stood at 5-3 overall and 4-2 in Section 3-A after a 16-1 rout of Sewickley Academy on April 27.
“I just love track and baseball so much,” Patsey said. “I knew I was fast for both, and that’s why I play center field. I didn’t want to do one and not the other.”
Patsey, understanding the balance and commitment needed, was ready to compete in both track and baseball last spring, but like many athletes throughout the state, he was denied the opportunity when the PIAA shut down the spring high school seasons because of growing covid concerns.
Patsey said he arrived at the hurdles mostly at the behest of his mother, Dana, who encouraged him while noticing that his speed and physical makeup would translate well to the event.
He said he was surprised with how he was able to progress in the early part of this season and reach a level among the WPIAL’s best.
Heading into a meet Saturday at South Fayette, Patsey ranked fourth in WPIAL Class AA in the 300 hurdles and also 11th in the 110 high hurdles.
The top 16 in each event, based on performances during the regular season, will qualify for the WPIAL Class AA championships May 20 at Slippery Rock.
“His height and athletic ability does lend to him doing well in the hurdles,” Riverview hurdles coach Barbara Stuart said. “He was ready to learn right from the start.”
At the 12-team Pine-Richland Mini Invitational on April 17, Patsey posted season bests in both hurdle events.
He ran and leapt a time of 43.50 seconds to win the 300 hurdles and clocked an 18.54 in the 110 hurdles to finish third behind Shaler’s Jack Keenan (16.71) and Slippery Rock’s Zach Mazor (17.42).
“He is one of the most dedicated athletes,” Stuart said. “He has commitment beyond anything else. He has taken on so much this spring with track and baseball. Anything I ask of him, he will do it. I will say that I am holding a weekend practice Sunday morning, and he says, ‘OK, I’ll be there.’ That has helped make him so successful in a short time.”
In addition to his hurdling, Patsey also runs as part of the Raiders’ 1,600 relay team.
Patsey got a sense of what the track season could hold as he earned seventh overall out of 20 competitors at the early-season Altoona Igloo Invitational on March 27.
“It was cool seeing all the people there, and I wasn’t too nervous about competing,” Patsey said. “It was good to get into competition and see how it felt.”
Stuart said Patsey’s development reminds her of a former standout Riverview hurdler.
“In 2013, we had the WPIAL and state (300 hurdles) champion in Tyler Murphy, and I can see John being that same type of athlete,” Stuart said.
Patsey was ready to join his Raiders teammates in the Class AA team semifinals Tuesday.
Stuart said there is a possibility of him competing at a last-chance meet for additional momentum heading into WPIALs.
But whatever he does, she said, the goal is to get mentally and physically prepared to head to Slippery Rock.
On the baseball diamond, Pastey said he hoped to fare a little better at the plate down the stretch, and he knows a breakout game is on the horizon. He was 1 for 3 with his fifth RBI of the season in Riverview’s big win over Sewickley Academy.
He also stole a pair of bases, giving him seven overall.
Patsey also was 1-1 with a 3.11 ERA and 13 strikeouts in nine innings of work heading into the Raiders’ scheduled section doubleheader Thursday and Friday against Leechburg.
Riverview also was to face Springdale in section play Monday and Tuesday. Both series were to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.
“As he gets more reps as he goes along, that will help him be more comfortable and successful at the plate,” Riverview baseball coach Bill Gras said.
“I understand his desire to want to do both sports. He’s a great athlete who wants to excel in whatever he does.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .