Freshman class brings enthusiasm to Hampton girls cross country team

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Thursday, September 5, 2019 | 5:43 PM


There will be plenty of new faces in the running for the Hampton girls cross country team this year. What they could grow into remains to be seen.

Three of the top five girls are freshmen.

“I’m excited for this weekend to see how well they can do,” head coach Heather Dietz said. “They’ve been training and working really hard.”

It’s a good thing that the annual Red, White and Blue Invitational at Schenley Park on Saturday holds a freshman run.

Kendall Soklovy, Ava Vitiello and Teresa Grimm have already cemented themselves among the team’s top five runners, while Maddie Fitzgerald is just slightly on the outside looking in.

Vitiello is new to Hampton last year – she moved from New Jersey — but has the makings of a successful cross country runner. Soklovy and Grimm have been through the Hampton junior high system and know what to expect.

“We run all our freshmen in the Red, White and Blue race to give them exposure to a big high school invitational,” Dietz said. “When I think of those three, they have a lot of grit, desire to do well and have been working really hard since June to prove themselves.”

Senior Ansley Haught and junior Ciara Evans round out the top five and will look to improve on last year’s finishes.

Evans was 92nd and Haught 97th in the Red, White and Blue Invitational. They also competed at WPIALs at California University. Haught finished 132nd and Evans 159th.

“We don’t see her in the summer,” said Dietz of Haught. “So I’m interested to see. She is a well-rounded athlete and I hope she does well for us. She’s just coming off getting her wisdom teeth removed two weeks ago.”

Other seniors competing include Search Bierker and Anna Norman.

“Last year, we were on the low end of average,” Dietz said. “I would like to be on the upper end of where we’ve been. I’d like to climb and be more competitive in our section.”

That could be possible if the young group stays together. Grimm’s twin, Adrianna, is another freshman to watch.

“I’m really looking forward to this freshman group,” she said. “If they can stay healthy and continue to train, they could really be a force potentially when they are juniors and seniors.”

Much of this year’s group highlights the importance of exercise and conditioning more than the actual competitive side of cross country. Of the 21 runners, eight are brand new to the sport. Dietz has had to mix up the practices to compensate for the massive differential in conditioning between some of its new and experienced runners.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I want them to become lifelong runners. Rarely are we going to get a WPIAL champion at Hampton. We’re small. But I want them to learn the health benefits. Learning how to do that and carry it from high school is important.”

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