Hempfield girls claim 3rd cross country section title, hope to run in postseason meets

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Monday, October 12, 2020 | 8:09 PM


Hempfield girls cross country coach Jeff Mayo was surprised to learn the Spartans had won only two section titles before the 2020 season.

After going 8-0 in Section 1-AAA, the Spartans now have three. The previous two were in 2002 and ’13.

Hempfield is led by seniors Lily Schmadel and Kendra Winkleblech and sophomore Cydney Blahovec.

The trio ran well in the Red, White and Blue Invitational and Bald Eagle Classic. Both races were at White Oak Park, the future site of the Tri-County Track Coaches Association and the WPIAL championships.

It is unclear if the cross country teams will be able to compete in those events after the recent shutdown of the athletic teams at Hempfield because of covid-19.

They won’t be able to compete in Thursday’s Westmoreland County Invitational at Westmoreland County Community College.

The event is being run without the support of the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association this year because the group canceled because of insurance concerns and the coronavirus.

Greensburg Central Catholic coach Mike Brewer was able to put the meet together with 10 teams: Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Greensburg Salem, Greensburg Central Catholic, Kiski Area, Yough, Latrobe, Ligonier Valley, Derry and Hempfield.

Derry also announced a shutdown of its sports programs because of covid-19 concerns Monday, so if things don’t change, eight teams will run in the event with starts at 1 p.m. for the girls and 2 p.m. for the boys.

Mayo said he was disappointed his boys and girls won’t get a chance to run.

“The girls won last year, and they had a good shot at winning again,” Mayo said. “It would have come down to us and Kiski Area.”

Mayo said he knew the girls would have a good season and felt they had a chance to qualify for the state meet. But because of the coronavirus, the PIAA is only taking the champions from each district. In the past, the WPIAL got three team entries.

“It’s unfortunate that the PIAA changed the rules, but it did in every sport,” Mayo said. “It’s going to tough to reach the Top 10.”

Schmadel finished ninth at the Bald Eagle Classic, running a personal best 19:35. She finished 13th at the Red, White and Blue Invitational.

Winkleblech (19:55) and Blahovec (19:51) also finished in the Top 25 at Bald Eagle. The others competing were junior Lily Murphy and Julia Snyder, granddaughter of former Greensburg Salem coach Steve Snyder.

“I’m very proud of the girls,” Mayo said. “They worked hard throughout the summer. It’s a good group of girls; they are very close and spend a lot of time together.

“Lily, Kendra and Cydney all stepped up. The two seniors stepped up and provided leadership and were leaders by example.”

The boys team finished the season 4-4. The starters were all sophomores. They were led by Antonio Tuttoilmondo, Owen DeMatt and Tyler Miller.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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