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Southmoreland's Lessman among favorites at annual WCCA meet

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 11:44 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Hempfield Area shot putter Max Adams winds up to throw during their April 23, 2013 meet versus Latrobe and Hempfield in Hempfield Township.

Emily Lessman's determination in 2013 cannot be measured, but her results certainly can be.

The Southmoreland senior has decided to make her final high school track and field season a memorable one.

Lessman is doing everything she can to better herself and reach her goals.

The three-time PIAA Class AA qualifier in the high jump won't be happy without a state medal this season, and she's doing everything she can to prepare for that.

Lessman will compete in the Mars Invitational on Friday and then try to better her 2012 second-place finish at Saturday's Westmoreland County Coaches' Association meet at Latrobe's Memorial Stadium.

This is the 91st annual county meet for the boys and 34th for the girls.

“I'm fighting myself mentally,” Lessman said. “I know I should be doing better.”

She cleared 5 feet, 2 inches as a freshman but hasn't beaten that mark in a meet since. She has cleared 5-5 in practice.

“I know bigger jumps are in me,” she said. “That's why I've entered so many invitationals. I'm hoping they prepare me for the big events in a month.”

Lessman said she's been frustrated because she's not jumping to her capability. She has reverted to a four- or five-step approach she used as a freshman.

“Emily has worked very hard this season,” Southmoreland girls coach Chuck Brittain said. “She has entered several district meets (Butler, Mars, and Baldwin) in preparation for the state meet. She's gone to states three times and has yet to come away with a medal, so she's very determined this season, more so than I've ever seen her.”

And it was Lessman who approached Brittain about getting into the different meets.

“I haven't had to encourage Emily to compete in these meets,” Brittain said. “She's done a lot of this on her own. She's a very determined, talented athlete.

“She's trying to add experience in big meets to help her win the mental battle at Shippensburg. She knows how difficult it is to get to the state meet, let alone reach the medal stand.”

Saturday's WCCA meet will allow elite runners and throwers begin to prepare for the upcoming WPIAL and PIAA meets.

Action at Latrobe's Memorial Stadium begins at 9:30 a.m. with the field events. The track preliminaries for the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 110 and 100 hurdles start at 10:15 a.m.

The 3,200 relay finals will be before the 200 preliminaries, and finals for all other running events start at 12:30 p.m.

Latrobe coach Andy Wnek said the girls pole vault, girls long jump, sprints and relay races will be some of the top events.

Five of the top pole vaulters in the state are from the county; Hempfield's Bridget Guy and Lexi Masterson, Norwin's Kelsey Plecenik and Greensburg Salem's Cassidy Shepherd and Courtney McQuaide.

“You have some talented girls in the county, especially the pole vault,” Hempfield assistant coach Roger Sullenberger said. “You also have some outstanding coaches.”

Guy, Shepherd and Hempfield's Maddie Holmberg are the top long jumpers in the WPIAL. Guy and Holmberg are among four girls in the WPIAL to surpass 18 feet this season. Hempfield's Lauren George recently jumped 37-10 in the triple jump.

Hempfield's Max Adams will be favored in the discus and shot put, and the boys and girls javelin will have some of the area's top throwers, including Belle Vernon senior Jessica Slagus, who is one of the WPIAL's best.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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