Westmoreland athletes of the week: Hempfield’s Grace Iwig, Belle Vernon’s Colton Lee

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Saturday, April 13, 2024 | 9:16 PM


Grace Iwig

School: Hempfield

Class: Senior

Sport: Track & field

Claim to fame: Iwig, who competes in a pair of events that involve clearing a bar (pole vault and high jump), brought home first- and second-place finishes at the South Hills Classic.

She won the high jump with a mark of 5 feet and was the runner-up in the pole vault at 11 feet.

While Norwin bested Hempfield in a section meet 74.5-70.5, Iwig won both of her events.

What did it take to win at the South Hills Classic, and what did that do for your confidence to win an early season meet?

It took a lot of perseverance. The South Hills Classic was my first meet back after being out with an injury, so it was kind of difficult for me to get back into my rhythm. I’m happy with how I jumped after having been hurt, and I definitely feel more confident in my ability to get back to where I was during the indoor season now.

Have you been pleased with your distances this year?

I had a really amazing indoor season, and I’m very pleased with my progress. I’d love to continue to improve in this outdoor season.

Has the track and field team been affected by the recent wet weather?

Although bad weather can really make a meet more miserable, I think that our team does a great job of doing what needs to be done and keeping a good outlook on the competition and staying motivated.

What are you most looking forward to at the Lady Spartan Invitational?

I’m really looking forward to getting another opportunity to compete. Every competition is just another chance to improve and PR.

Did the loss to Norwin motivate the team?

Losing to Norwin definitely dampened the team’s spirits, but it’s also important to remember that everyone gave it their all. So many of my teammates were able to PR, and overall we had a really great meet. There are so many new opportunities for improvement, and I’m so proud of everyone.

What is your favorite TV show?

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

Any vacation plans for the summer?

I’m planning on going on a trip to Virginia Beach and Busch Gardens with my two close friends.

Are baby carrots still your comfort food?

Definitely.

Are you into social media?

I actually wasn’t allowed to have social media until I was 14 or 15. I really like using it to keep in contact with other athletes, and I love opening up my phone and seeing that one of my friends PR-ed or committed to a college they’ve been wanting to go to.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’m not sure what I want to study in college yet, but in 5 years I hope that I am doing something I enjoy and that will help others.

Why does Hempfield have such a strong program each year?

We practice 6 days a week, regardless of pouring rain, strong winds, freezing cold, or unbearable heat. Everyone makes sacrifices so that our team can be the best that it can be. Through terrible meet conditions and countless injuries, we are all still part of the team. Having the motivation and support of everyone on the team makes us stronger.

What does a pole vaulter do to stay in pole vault shape in the offseason?

In my opinion, one of the best ways to stay in shape is to go to summer camps and club practices. Just being able to practice during the offseason and continue improving can be very beneficial to you during the upcoming season, and not having to worry about meets makes learning new techniques much less stressful.

What makes you happy?

Spending time with my friends and family.

What makes you sad?

When I burn my bagel, and I’m in a rush before school.

What pro sporting event would you like to go back in time and attend?

Getting to be a part of any event would be such an amazing experience, I’m not picky.

Colton Lee

School: Belle Vernon

Class: Senior

Sport: Baseball

Claim to fame: Lee pitched a gem Tuesday at Uniontown. The lefty tossed a one-hitter while striking out 15 as Belle Vernon defeated Uniontown, 3-1. The lone hit was a home run at tiny Bailey Park. The victory improved his record to 3-0. In 11 innings he has 21 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.91. His performance improved Belle Vernon to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in Section 2-4A. He also was the starting wide receiver/middle linebacker on the two-time WPIAL/PIAA Class 3A champion football team.

Was it a cheap home run?

The kid hit it well. It was the only pitch that didn’t do what I wanted.

What was working that game?

I throw fastballs, curveballs and changeups. I was spotting my fastball well and had a good curveball. Everything seemed to be working, and my catcher Max Kostelnik was calling a great game. I trusted what he was calling. He’s been my catcher for years, and he knows how to keep me calm.

What sport will you play in college?

Probably baseball. I’m thinking baseball is my future and the sport I’ll have more longevity in. I did get banged up in football.

What is the goal this season?

The goal is to win the section, make the playoffs and win the WPIAL title and reach the PIAAs and hopefully win a state title. We made the playoffs my freshman year and haven’t done well the past two seasons. I feel we have a good chance at achieving our goals.

What has been your most memorable or best game?

My best game was probably the game against Uniontown on Tuesday. It was a big game for me because there were college coaches there to watch me. I was a little nervous, and it felt like a Friday night football game. It was exciting.

Talk about winning the two football championships.

I think it showed that we could play with and beat anyone. We were a tight-knit group and had great chemistry. Winning a second title validated the first one.

Do you play other positions when not pitching?

I will play either first base or the outfield.

What are you expectations of the Pirates?

Hopefully be around .500. That would be exciting.

If you were the Steelers’ GM, who would you pick in the first round of the upcoming draft?

I’d go for an offensive lineman since we addressed the quarterback position.

What type of music do you listen to?

I like to listen to music from the 1990s. I like Rock ‘n’ roll and some country. I’m not a rap guy.

Where do you go for a snack after a game or practice?

We go to the Athletic Club in Belle Vernon for wings on Thursdays.

If your mom was making you your favorite dinner, what would it be?

I’m a steak guy. I like my steak medium rare.

Sheetz or Get-Go?

I prefer Sheetz. I like their value deals.

What is your favorite type of movies?

I like action and comedies.

Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

I’m not a beach guy. I hate the sand. I like our hunting camp in Tionesta. I’m a big outdoor guy. I like hunting and fishing.

Is there a place you’d like to visit?

I’d like to go to the Rockies.

Is playing Thomas Jefferson still a big deal?

It’s the biggest game every year. It’s a bigger deal than people can think. It’s been a big game for years, and losing to them last year still hurts. Now we’re back in the same conference again.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and what would you talk about?

I’d pick Kurt Cobain, and we’d talk about music.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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