Hempfield captures boys WPIAL track championship in final event
Monday, May 6, 2019 | 11:17 PM
It was a classic finish in the WPIAL Class AAA team championship Monday at Peters Township.
Heading into the final event, the pole vault, Hempfield was leading North Allegheny and Seneca Valley by a point.
The winner of the pole vault would take home the team title.
That’s when Hempfield junior Rylan Kauffman and Lukas Kissel stepped up big for their team.
Kauffman and Kissel tied for first place, and the Spartans celebrated another boys title, winning 79-71 over both North Allegheny and Seneca Valley and 87-63 over Mt. Lebanon. Both vaulters cleared 12 feet, 7 inches.
Hempfield’s top pole vaulter, Tanner Barnhart, is out with a foot injury, and another vaulter who qualified for states didn’t come out.
“I didn’t know much about Seneca Valley, but I felt we had a chance against the other two,” Hempfield coach Ron Colland said. “What Rylan did after snapping his pole and Lucas did was amazing.
“The entire team stepped up. We have a small group of athletes this year who worked so hard. The field event people were outstanding. They PR’d all over, and the runners did their jobs knowing we’d have a tough time scoring against the top three cross country teams.”
This is Hempfield’s fifth team title and first since 2012.
“I’m so thankful,” Colland said. “After last year when we thought we placed second. That was one of the reasons I wanted to come back. This is going to be tough to walk away. We’re ecstatic. My coaches told me we could be WPIAL champions.”
Kauffman said breaking the pole was a first for him. He was able to regroup and clear the height along with Kissel, but the North Allegheny vaulter could not.
“It was a great time,” Kauffman said. “Breaking the pole was a trip. I’m just happy we pulled through for the team.”
The meet did not end until after 10 p.m.
The Spartans got a great effort from senior Gavin Mayo, especially in the high jump and long jump. His jump of 23 feet, 71/2 inches broke the oldest track record at the school: Ed Buggs’ from 1975. Buggs leaped 22-11.
Nathan Roby set a personal record in winning the 100 meters, Jared Bannon shined in the hurdles and Dan Norris won the shot put.
Bannon won the 110 hurdles, placed second with a personal best in the 200 and ran a 48-second split in the 1,600 relay.
As the Norwin girls track team was lining up for a photo after their second-place finish, they yelled congratulations to the girls from Butler.
Receiving praise is becoming a common theme for the Golden Tornado, who captured their third straight district title.
The Class AAA girls title came down to the final event of the evening, the 1,600 relay. Butler’s team of Chesna Tomko, Gabby Boden, Anna Baxter and Liz Simms held off a strong effort from Norwin to win the event.
“Norwin is a great team,” Butler coach John Williams said. “We had to do a couple different things to beat them.”
He said Chelsey Kabel’s second-place finish in the 3,200, where she split the Norwin runners, was huge.
“Her final two (points) was great,” Williams said. “It’s something we needed.”
Butler edged Norwin, 77-73, and defeated North Allegheny and Seneca Valley by identical 95-55 scores. Norwin finished second by defeating North Allegheny, 89-61, and Seneca Valley, 90-60.
“Finishing second isn’t too bad,” Norwin coach Brian Fleckenstein said. “That’s a great Butler team, and my girls put forth a great effort. We knew the final race would favor Butler, and it did.”
Fleckenstein said Jessica Kolesar, Lexi Gray, Emily Brozeski and Courtney Kosanovic did a fantastic job in the final relay.
Riverside’s boys won the Class AA title over Waynesburg, Shenango and South Park. The South Park girls took the Class AA title by defeating Mohawk, 78-72.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .