Deer Lakes’ Cutright faces challengers in defense of 300 hurdles title

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | 5:30 PM


Last year, Kiera Cutright was the hunter.

Now, the Deer Lakes senior is the hunted.

After placing sixth in the 300-meter hurdles at the WPIAL Class AA track and field championships as a sophomore, Cutright ascended to the top last year as champion.

She hopes defend her title this spring, but she knows it won’t be easy.

“It’s good that I will have some pretty fierce competition,” Cutright said. “There will be a number of familiar faces.”

Those familiar faces include Burrell senior Kaylen Sharrow, who placed third in the 300 at WPIALs last year. In all, 14 of the 16 who competed in the girls Class AA 300 hurdles in 2018 were underclassmen.

In addition to the goal of defending her WPIAL crown, she hopes to challenge and surpass her WPIAL time of 45.94 seconds and then her state-meet finish of 45.60 that put her in sixth overall.

“At the time, it didn’t feel real,” Cutright said of winning the WPIAL title. “It was something I worked so hard for, but it still was a total surprise. I was shooting for top three. I got sixth the year before, so I didn’t think it would be that big of a jump. But it was super exciting.”

Cutright and Sharrow went head to head Tuesday in a section dual meet at Burrell, and Sharrow edged her out for wins in both the 300 and 100. The same thing happened last year before Cutright came out on top at WPIALs.

“There’s over a month until WPIALs,” Cutright said. “There’s a lot of time to work on my races and lower my times. It should be competitive, and I’ll just go after the same result (in the 300) as last year.”

She also hopes to improve her standing in the 100 hurdles after just missing a WPIAL medal in ninth place (17.30) last year. She was under 17 seconds in the event Tuesday.

“Right before WPIALs, I practiced three-stepping, and I had been four-stepping my entire life,” Cutright said of her 100-hurdles approach. “I went to three-stepping at the actual (WPIAL) meet, and it didn’t go as planned, and I fell behind.

“I’m not expecting anything crazy, but I do hope to get on the podium in the 100. It just comes down to mastering the technique and settling in on what works best for me.”

Cutright is pretty busy these days with school and homework, track practice and meets and a lead part in the school’s musical production of Mamma Mia!

The final performance of the musical is Sunday, and she said she then will have more time to focus on her track efforts.

“It’s a lot of back and forth between school, track and the musical,” Cutright said. “I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped (at Tuesday’s meet), but I went out and tried my hardest.”

Cutright said she’s looking forward to competing at the 55th Butler Invitational next week.

Deer Lakes hurdles coach Matt Shibley said he is confident Cutright soon will shift into a higher gear in the next five weeks leading to WPIALs.

“We really saw her turn it on during the invitationals last year with drops in her times,” Shibley said. “She’s ready for some more quality training time. I’m happy with where she’s at right now and ready to see what she can do the rest of the season. She wanted to win (Tuesday), and she was a little upset. But that’s OK because she’s such a competitor.”

Beyond this spring, Cutright is focused on what she can do to contribute on the women’s track and field team at Point Park.

She made her decision final last month.

Point Park has sponsored men’s and women’s track and field teams since 2014, and Cutright said the programs become more accomplished every year with results at the local and national levels.

“They’ve been pretty successful so far, so I hope to go there and help continue that,” she said. “At first, I thought after this year, my track career would be done. It feels really good to know that I potentially have four years ahead of me.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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