2-time state champ Dale Hall leaves Hampton as one of track program’s all-time greats

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Saturday, June 1, 2024 | 11:01 AM


When two-time state champion Dale Hall was a freshman, he got kicked out of Hampton track practice one day.

He wanted to run hills with the Talbots, but there was one problem: He wasn’t even a Hampton student.

“That might not have been my brightest move,” said Hall, an Aquinas Academy ninth grader at the time. “Aquinas has a longer spring break than Hampton. So I showed up. It was during covid, too, so that made things even worse. It ended up with me doing hill sprints on the opposite side of the road from them.”

Little did anyone know that the lanky ninth grader running up hills by himself one spring day in 2021 would become the most decorated runner in Hampton history.

“He’s really come a long way since his freshman year,” track coach Heather Dietz said. “I don’t know if I realized how talented he would be.”

After his lone semester at Aquinas, Hall returned to Hampton as a sophomore and began his ascent to two-time PIAA Class 3A champion and the fastest distance runner in school history.

Hall capped his high school career by winning the Class 3A 800-meter title at the PIAA championships at Shippensburg on May 25 in a school-record time of 1 minute, 51.29 seconds.

Hall, a Liberty (Va.) recruit, edged North Hills junior Kayden Lightner by six-hundredths of a second (1:51.35) and Mifflin County top-seeded sophomore Carter Smith (1:51.77) by less than a half-second.

The narrow victory came one year after Hall upset Butler’s Drew Griffith by seven-hundredths of a second to win the PIAA 1,600 title. The two blink-of-an-eye finishes joined Hall with former Hampton legend Mike England (880, 1977-78) as the school’s only multiple state champions.

“The fans paid for their ticket,” Hall said of his dramatic wins. “You’ve got to keep them happy.”

The day before Hall’s 800 title, he finished third in the 1,600, breaking his own school record with a time of 4:06.90.

All told, Hall rewrote some of the longest-standing records in Hampton track — the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 — during his tenure.

It was a stunning path for Hall, who couldn’t even break 5 minutes in the 1,600 as a freshman and didn’t qualify for states in any event until his junior year.

“We knew that he had some speed,” Dietz said. “But as he developed and got stronger and put on some lean muscle, his turnover really increased and he was really able to drop those times.”

Hall’s physical growth and work ethic — “He doesn’t take any shortcuts,” Dietz said — combined to bring out the best.

Hall also led the Hampton cross country team to three consecutive WPIAL Class 2A titles and the program’s first PIAA crown. In his four cross country seasons, he went from 60th in the WPIAL as a freshman to fourth in the state as a senior.

This summer he planned to compete at the Night at the Island track meet on June 1 at Neville Island, and he also is eyeing the Hampton Rotary Firecracker 5K on July 4. His Hampton teammate, Chris Belch, is the reigning 5K champ.

“He loves his Firecracker 5K title, and he talks about it way too much,” Hall said, laughing. “I’m going to have to try to take it from him.”

Hall will head to Liberty, a Conference USA school, in mid-August. He will run on the cross country team and do distance events for track. Hall had offers from a host of Power 5 programs such as Tennessee, Pitt and Penn State, among others, but picked the Christian private school in Lynchburg, Va.

“I don’t think Dale is short-changing himself,” Dietz said. “Dale has a very strong faith, and his faith has helped him attain the goals he wanted to as a runner. I think Liberty is a perfect fit for that. Dale doesn’t run on Sundays and he needed to find a school and a coaching staff that would support him and take all of Dale and not try to change Dale.”

Running in the Hall

Hampton two-time state champion Dale Hall broke three longstanding track records for the Talbots

Event New record, old mark (athlete, year)

800 — 1:51.29, 1:51.60 (Mike England, 1978)

1600 — 4:06.90, 4:11.7 (Mike England, 1978)

3200 — 9:08.55, 9:23.4 (Derek Seiling, 1992)

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