Hampton girls cross country team learns to overcome obstacles

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Thursday, October 17, 2019 | 5:16 PM


The main goal for Hampton girls cross country this season was simply growth and development. Learning how to overcome injuries and obstacles is part of that process, and the Talbots have done it well.

“I think everyone is really happy with this season,” senior Anna Norman said. “I know we lost a few girls to injuries, but it’s really nice to see coming in the last couple of weeks the progression we’ve made.”

The team most recently finished eighth of 16 at the John Sample Invitational in Grove City, even though one of its top runners, senior Ansley Haught, could not make the trip because of a conflict with the SAT test.

“I’m really looking forward to Tri-States and how that pans out for them,” coach Heather Dietz said of the TSTCA Invitational at Cal (Pa.). “We’ve had so much in little nuances that have kept us apart from running cohesively as a team.”

Freshmen Kendall Solkovy (21 minutes, 19 seconds) and Ava Vitiello (21:30) stepped up and finished 32nd and 37th, respectively, out of 117 runners at Grove City. Junior Ciara Evans (42nd, 21:45) and Norman (59th, 22:27) also ran strong races.

“Kendall has really gone off, and so has Ava,” Norman said. “They’re showing how they can be really great runners. They started at the Red, White & Blue Invitational (the annual opening meet in September), and they haven’t stopped yet.”

Norman has become one of the senior leaders the young runners can lean on.

“She’s one of our senior leaders that has really done a nice job cohesively bringing the team together,” Dietz said. “She’s improved a lot mentally and physically.”

Norman, who transferred from Catholic school as a freshman, did not start running until her sophomore year.

“The seniors that year were so amazing and great role models,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be that way when I was a senior.”

She attributed her jump forward this year to becoming more dedicated to the sport.

“I struggled my junior year,” she said. “It might have been my summer training. This year, I went into summer with the attitude that every mile counts. Every workout I can get to I need to be at, wherever I can get my runs in and really have a not-quit attitude.”

The team has been competitive in most of its meets, winning against schools similar in size, including Mars, Shaler and North Hills. Facing the bigger schools such as North Allegheny and Pine-Richland, proved to be more difficult.

“It’s one of those things where we’re competitive for the size we are,” Dietz said. “But up against the big schools we struggle just because of depth.”

With the Tri-State and WPIAL meets fast approaching, the goal is simply to finish strong.

“I think we’re just hoping to come away with one good last race,” Norman said. “I know Ansley and Ciara and I said it would be great to finish off with one good one. I know Cal will be a tough course, but we’d like to finish it off well.”

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