Hampton girls track looks to compensate for relay team losses

Thursday, April 11, 2019 | 10:17 PM

With only underclassmen on Hampton’s state-qualifying relay team last year, the squad looked poised to score big on the team and individual levels.

But with Rylee Obringer, Logan Nicklas and Olivia Bianco — all of whom contributed to the 1,600- and 3,200-meter teams — off the squad, the team will have to regroup with what remains and hope there’s enough juice to get back to WPIALs.

Despite having its best 1,600 and 3,200 teams in years, only Valerie Fischer, Cambell France and last year’s alternate, Peyton Wheeler, remain. But they aren’t fretting.

After dropping its opener to Kiski Area, the Talbots earned consecutive wins over Highlands, 126-10, and Knoch, 89-52, as they chase the team playoffs for the second year in a row.

“We are going to do the best with the people we have,” Fischer said. “I think we still have a lot of potential. I think Cambell and I just have to lift up the younger kids to help build up their confidence and let them know that they can run with us. There’s no pressure. Everyone’s in this together. We’re going to help lift them up and teach them.”

Coach Derek Brinkley will enjoy his last time around with the two regular contributors on the relay and individual circuit. Both participated at the PIAA meet in Shippensburg last year, France on the 3,200 and Fischer in the 400, in addition to the relay.

“They are the mainstays,” he said. “They’ve been walking around here for years, almost as if to say, ‘I don’t care who the coach is, I’m going to prove it to them.’ You talk about some great runners right there. They can give you goosebumps sometimes.”

Fischer has spent plenty of time with France the past three seasons and is happy to have someone along with her in their journeys, whether on relays or off the track.

“She’s my running buddy,” Fischer said. “We always run and warm up together. I think that really helped me step into a leadership role knowing I’m not by myself. By having some success, we can pass this off to the younger kids.”

Given the attrition from last season, the attention turns from relays to individuals.

“We’re in a position with these relays possibly not being on the table,” Brinkley said. “It’s what can we do to get those two running at Shippensburg. It could be the 400 or 800. Cambell has really focused on that the last two weeks.”

Fischer hopes to reach states for a third consecutive time in the 400.

“I’m really focusing on the 400,” she said. “Last year I took a little step back to focus on the relays. I’ve really been working hard in practices and training, eating healthy. I want to make states and break the school record.”

Others to watch include freshman and France’s younger sister, Ava, and jumper Hannah Schepner, who took time out of her year-round gymnastics schedule to participate.

In the team’s first meet against Kiski Area, she set personal records in the high jump, long jump and triple jump.

“She’s a very good gymnast and had a lot of success,” Brinkley said of Schepner, who finished fifth at the WPIAL gymnastics championships in February.

“She’s an example of what you don’t see very much anymore: a young kid taking advantage of their talents and doing multiple things.”


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