Gateway’s Robinson finding her place among WPIAL’s top sprinters

Sunday, April 25, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Amaya Robinson felt at home at the South Hills Classic on April 10. Baldwin hosted, but Gateway’s Antimarino Stadium provided the setting for the events.

The junior sprinter collected a fifth-place medal and a season-best time of 12.75 seconds in the 100-meter dash.

“I definitely feel I have room to improve,” said Robinson, who has her eyes set on a return to the WPIAL individual championships after taking part in multiple events there as a freshman.

“I’m always willing to talk with the coaches and ask for advice. There’s always something I am working on with my running as WPIALs gets closer. I try to set tiny, specific goals to work on every single day.”

The top 24 place holders in each event based on regular-season performances will qualify for the WPIAL Class AAA championships May 20 at Slippery Rock.

The final day to submit performance entries is May 13. Right now, the final scheduled day for Robinson to earn qualifying times for WPIALs is a last-chance meet May 11 at West Mifflin.

Robinson admits she often checks, with the help of her dad, times and performances of potential competition to see where she most likely will fall on a particular performance list.

“Knowing that I have to have one of those top times in my events for WPIALs really pushes me every day,” Robinson said. “Talking about WPIALs with my teammates gets us all really excited.”

Robinson and the rest of the Gateway athletes missed several opportunities to get on the track from April 14-18 while all Gateway athletes were on a covid pause.

The teams returned to practice April 19 ahead of a section tri-meet with Penn Hills and Plum.

“Amaya is on track with her goals,” Gateway coach Tom LaBuff said. “She works hard. We’ve been working on things such as her starts. The 100, she looks fine. For whatever reason, she’s been a little hesitant to actually run the turn in the 200, so her times haven’t exactly been where she or I want them. But she will get there. It is a matter of getting out there with more and more competition.”

Robinson placed 10th in the 100 preliminaries at the 2019 WPIAL meet with a time of 12.49 and added a 12th in the 200 (26.51).

She hoped to build on both coming into her sophomore year, but the PIAA first suspended the spring season after two weeks of practices and ultimately canceled the season over growing covid concerns.

“It was definitely hard to not have last season after training for those two weeks,” Robinson said. “There was an excitement from me and whole team. Training was hard, but we were seeing results and were having a lot of fun. I really wanted to improve on my performances from WPIALs my freshman year. I was motivated after not being able to go to states.”

After talking with her parents, coaches and others to form a gameplan, Robinson made the most of the rest of her time in the spring and into the summer.

“I did a lot of physical training with a lot of good people, including my dad, and I feel I am stronger and faster from it,” Robinson said.

She also kept in shape over the fall as a member of the Gateway girls volleyball team.

“I am a hitter in volleyball, so the explosion part, working to get up and make a play as quickly as possible and staying there, helps when it comes to needing to be explosive on the track.”

Robinson said while she feels there is promise with progression in her individual events, the 400 relay with senior Cenaiya Burgher, freshman Kierra Pitts and junior Megan Mcfetridge also is taking shape for a possible WPIAL run.

The Gateway girls 400 relay placed 18th at WPIALs in 2019.

“We were looking for that fourth person as we worked on bringing everything together as a team, and Megan really stepped up,” Robinson said. “It’s really coming along.”

The Gateway teams were to turn their focus to the Butler Invitational on Friday (boys) and Saturday (girls). The events were to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.

LaBuff said he expects Robinson’s talent and her leadership abilities to again shine.

“Amaya is not real vocal, and she leads mostly by example,” LaBuff said. “She takes care of her own business, but I often find out little things about her helping a younger athlete on the team stay focused and do the right things in training. She often does things that I or the other coaches don’t see, but you know it just by the way the other kids respect her and look to her for guidance.”

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


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