Hampton quartet fares well at PIAA track

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Saturday, June 4, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Hampton brought back one state medal, one personal-best time and a vanload of memories from the PIAA Class 3A track and field championships May 27-28 at Shippensburg.

Senior Matt DeMatteo placed eighth in the 300-meter hurdles to win his first PIAA track medal, and junior Ava Vitiello ran the fastest 1,600 of her life to finish 18th against Pennsylvania’s best high school milers.

Sophomore Kathleen Milon placed 16th in the rain-delayed 400 after entering the race seeded 20th, and Kevyn Fish took 22nd in the 3,200 despite being one of only four freshmen in the 31-runner field.

“We had an upbeat, great weekend,” Talbots coach Heather Dietz said. “The four kids that we took are really great student/athletes, and the entire coaching staff was really proud of them. Watching them progress through the season and be able to qualify for states and have great performances at states, we couldn’t be happier as coaches to get to celebrate that weekend with them.”

DeMatteo, who placed second in the 300 hurdles at the WPIAL Class 3A championships on May 18 at Slippery Rock, qualified for the PIAA finals by placing eighth out of 24 runners with a time of 39.70 seconds during Friday’s preliminaries. The Duquesne track recruit outran his No. 12 seed and assured himself of a state medal, hitting the wire in 40.03 seconds in Saturday’s finals. DeMatteo placed ninth in the state last year in the 300 hurdles, missing a PIAA medal by less than a half-second.

“We’re really proud of his eighth-place medal,” Dietz said. “To be eighth in the state in the 300 hurdles still amazes me. It is such a challenging event. To earn that medal is quite an accomplishment and we are really proud of him.”

DeMatteo’s weekend wasn’t over. On Monday, he played for Team Pennsylvania in its 28-7 victory over Maryland in the 65th Big 33 Football Classic at Bishop McDevitt in Harrisburg. DeMatteo, the first Hampton athlete to play in the prestigious all-star game in 24 years and only the third overall, punted for Team PA, averaging 38 yards on his two punts.

Vitiello, making her first appearance at the PIAA track championships, clocked a personal-best time of 5:01.15 in her 18th-place finish in the 1,600. She topped her previous best of 5:03.13 set during her fifth-place finish at the WPIAL finals.

“That was my main goal, to just PR (personal record) and have a good race and have a good time,” Vitiello said. “I’m really happy that I got to see some closure with the season. That was really nice. To PR at states is something that’s really cool. It was just a great time.”

Milon, who placed 18th in the 400 at states last year as a freshman, outran her seed and finished 16th in 59.19 seconds. Her race was delayed by two hours when a thunderstorm raged through Shippensburg on Friday afternoon.

“That was a curveball that was thrown at me,” said Milon, who placed fourth in the WPIAL 400 finals a week and a half earlier. “I had warmed up already for my race and then there was lightning, so they took everyone off the track. … That was kind of a bummer that I was ready to run and then we had to wait for two hours. But when I actually ran, the weather cleared up. It wasn’t that big of a deal.”

Fish, who along with Vitiello and Milon will give Hampton all three girls state qualifiers returning next season, finished 22nd in the 3,200 in 11:15.78. She was 12 seconds slower than her seventh-place finish at the WPIAL championships.

“It’s a pretty intimidating experience, being out there (at states) as a freshman,” Dietz said. “She ran a good race. It wasn’t a great race for her. But to be there and be able to represent the top athletes in the state, that is such a privilege and we’re ready to see what she can do next year.”

For sure, they will remember the atmosphere at the 2022 PIAA meet. As is team tradition for Hampton’s state-bound track and field athletes, they roll down the windows of the school vans as they enter Shippensburg and “breathe the air.” This year, they sang along to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” for all to hear.

“It was very hyped,” Vitiello said. “We were so excited. When we arrived in Shippensburg, we all put down the windows and we were singing.

“This whole track season has probably been one of my favorite seasons so far. The team was so amazing. The coaches were so supportive. It’s been a great time, and I think we are all so excited for next year, too.”

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