Hampton’s Galuska keeps his cool at states, medals in 400

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Saturday, June 5, 2021 | 11:34 AM


Hampton senior Gage Galuska was a little slower — and a lot colder — at the PIAA Class AAA track and field championships.

But the WPIAL 400-meter champion left Shippensburg University with a warm feeling.

He brought home a state medal and a season full of memories.

The Edinboro football recruit followed his record-breaking 400 victory at the WPIAL championships with a seventh-place finish in the event at the state finals May 29.

“My mom said my lips were purple after the race,” Galuska said.

Junior Matt DeMatteo, who competed in three events, senior Corey Letterle, sophomore Joey Mayer and, on the girls side, freshman Kat Milon also braved the elements during a chilly and sometimes wet PIAA meet.

“It thought it was really fun, other than the weather,” said DeMatteo, who outperformed his seed in the 300 hurdles and the triple jump. “It was a fun weekend.”

Galuska hit the wire in 49.58 seconds, the second-fastest 400 time of his career, and only 0.69 behind his school-record time of 48.89 set during his stirring WPIAL gold-medal run 10 days earlier at Slippery Rock.

Galuska achieved his season-long goal of winning a PIAA medal and became the first Hampton boy to finish in the top eight at states since Kurt Eberhardt took third in the 300 hurdles in 2016.

Galuska was the only Talbot to win a PIAA medal, but others recorded personal-best times or gained a valuable experience for the future.

DeMatteo ran the fastest 300 hurdles of his life, finishing in 39.95 seconds and placing ninth in the 25-runner field. Among WPIAL representatives, only gold medalist Dontae Lewis of West Mifflin finished ahead of him. DeMatteo, whose previous best was 39.98, had entered the event seeded 11th yet missed a top-eight medal by less than a half-second. He was fueled by a fifth-place finish in the WPIAL with a time of 40.18.

“I was a little bit disappointed with my result at the WPIALs,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and run the best I could do. … I wanted to medal, but it’s still a (personal best). So I’m pleased with it, but I’m disappointed at the same time.”

DeMatteo also outperformed his seed in the triple jump. He arrived at states ranked 23rd out of 24 jumpers. But his leap of 42 feet, 7 12 inches was good enough for 17th.

DeMatteo said he will enter his senior season next year with an eye on the 300 hurdle school record of 39.63 set by Matt Redshaw in 2008.

Milon also has a bright future. She was the only ninth grader in the 33-girl field in the PIAA Class AAA 400, finishing 18th in 59.29. She was seeded 21st after placing sixth in the WPIAL in 58.43.

“She had so much fun, and she really enjoyed the experience,” Hampton coach Derek Brinkley said. “I think it’s huge when it comes to experience for her.”

Perhaps the only letdown was the final event of the meet. The Hampton 1,600 relay team of Mayer, DeMatteo, Letterle and Galuska settled for 12th in 3:31.20, about seven seconds slower than their school-record time during their third-place finish at WPIALs.

“We were running against some good teams,” Galuska said. “All of our splits were a little slower.”

Regardless, it was a track season to remember at Hampton. The boys team won its first section title since 1985. Senior Hannah Schepner, who missed reaching states by one-half inch, broke school records in the long jump and the triple jump, and Galuska set marks in the 100, 200 and 400. Throw in the boys 400 and 1,600 relay teams, and the Talbots set school records in seven events this season.

The Talbots rewrote the track and field record books despite having their 2020 season wiped out by the pandemic.

“It was a great year for sports, even for all of the sports teams at Hampton,” Galuska said. “Everyone was ready to get out of quarantine and get to work.”

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