As the anchor on Greater Johnstown High School girls track and field team’s successful 400-meter relay squad, Kaleya Smothers is familiar with strong finishes.

The COVID-19 pandemic took away her senior season on the track, but Smothers soon will graduate from Greater Johnstown with her high school diploma and an associate’s degree from Penn Highlands Community College as part of a dual-enrollment program.

After that, the talented, two-sport Trojan will head to Carlow University near Pittsburgh to play college basketball.

“They have a good program with the biology department,” Smothers said of Carlow. “It’s an accelerated program. You could work toward your bachelor’s and master’s (degrees) at the same time.

“My credits are able to transfer to Carlow,” she added. “A year into my bachelor’s degree is taken care of already. I feel like Pittsburgh is such a great city. I’m excited to be around that type of environment.”

Smothers competed in the 100 and 200 dashes at Greater Johnstown and ran the final leg on the 400 relay squad that had success in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference and in the District 6 Class AAA championship meet.

The Trojans girls 400 relay finished in 51 seconds last season, nearly equaling the school record of 50.04, Johnstown coach Chuck Wyatt said.

“She just always worked hard and showed up to practice,” Wyatt said. “She is a great student-athlete. She had a lot of success over the last three years with the relay team. They won the Laurel Highlands and placed third in District 6. They came close to breaking the school record. She is just a hard worker.”

Wyatt said Smothers was part of a relay that included fellow seniors Kayle Lewis and Gelicia Manor as well as Simone Durham. Graduate Champagne Wyatt also ran on the relay in past seasons, the coach said.

“For the past two years our 400 relay team got first place,” Smothers said. “My sophomore year at districts the 400 relay got second. We got third at districts the last two years in AAA.”

On the basketball court, Smothers was a co-captain. She averaged 6.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.1 assists per game.

“Kaleya is a gifted athlete and student,” Trojans girls basketball coach Kurt Hoffman said. “She brings an intelligence and a forethought to the game that can be a coach’s dream. She can see the floor really well, especially defensively. She can see things so quickly that she creates a problem for whoever she is guarding.

“She was a captain for us this year and a leader by example. She’s always working hard in practice. Never took a day off. Her intelligence is just off the charts and she makes straight A’s. She was fun to coach.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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