Hampton girls track endures, earns another WPIAL playoff berth
Thursday, May 9, 2019 | 7:14 PM
The Hampton girls track team might not have hit the ground running, but the Talbots picked up steam quickly.
After losing its first meet, Hampton ran the table the rest of the regular season and into the WPIAL semifinals for the third straight year.
“We were talking the other day as a staff,” coach Derek Brinkley said. “Our first dual meet we lost. We knew we had some pretty good individuals, but as a team, we thought we were going to be in a little bit of a rough spot.”
The team never looked back after losing its first meet at Kiski. Strong leadership from seniors Valerie Fischer, Cambell France and Peyton Wheeler was complemented by a solid crop of underclassmen sprinters.
“We go into the team playoff and have 19 girls,” Brinkley said. “That’s a pretty low number, but it just goes to show the type of kids we have. We don’t have the strength in numbers, but they work hard.”
Though the Talbots did not advance in their playoff meet at Seneca Valley, Brinkley said the matchup is “another invitational” because top teams such as Seneca Valley and Butler boast more depth.
“It gives our kids another opportunity to go against great competition,” Brinkley said. “We know we’re not going to be able to match up with them from a team standpoint. But we tell the kids, it’s another test to get to where we want to be in the individual championships.”
That time is approaching, as the WPIAL championships are May 16 at Slippery Rock.
Fischer is a contender in the 400, which she won at the Mars Invitational with a time of 59.1 — more than 2 seconds better than the competition. Freshmen Nicole Fortes and Ava France have earned valuable team points in the 100, 200 and the relays.
At the Mars Invitational, Fortes finished third and France fifth in the 100. They also helped the 400 relay team to a first-place finish with sophomore Emmy Chismer and junior Sydney Seymour.
“The maturation process with the girls is continual,” Brinkley said. “They’re going through a realization that they are proving themselves. Track and field is one sport, it’s an entire team so the maturation process takes a while.”
Brinkley also highlighted Seymour and sophomore Hannah Schepner for producing points in the jumping events. Seymour finished second in the long jump at the Northern Area Last Chance meet at Pine-Richland and has proven valuable in the relays. Schepner finished second at Butler and third at the Last Chance Meet in the high jump.
Individuals competing at WPIALs include France in the 800 and the 3,200 relay team of France, Seymour, Fortes and Fischer.
The team was hoping to get its time down to end up in the faster heat, something Brinkley feels is integral to success at WPIALs. The team posted a 4:07 two weeks ago, which seemed sufficient, but the qualifying time is always changing.
Despite running season-best times in the 400 and 1,600 relays at the Last Chance Meet, neither made the fast-heat cut for WPIALs, leaving them with a difficult road to qualify for states.
“It looked good a couple weeks ago, but now at that time we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Brinkley said.