Hempfield sweeps team titles at Tri-State Invitational
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Considering that both the Hempfield boys and girls track teams are defending WPIAL Class AAA champions, it would not be much of a stretch to put both into the small group of contenders for this year's team title.
To add a little extra pressure on the rest of the league, Hempfield made a statement that each of its teams could be prohibitive favorites to repeat when the WPIAL team tournament starts May 1 after sweeping both titles at the Tri-State Track and Field Coaches' Association Invitational on Saturday at West Mifflin.
The Mt. Lebanon boys and girls each finished second.
“We didn't think the weather would be this bad, but you have to perform in all kinds of conditions,” Hempfield coach Ron Colland said. “We've been blessed with some outstanding athletes and a good bit of depth as well.”
Hempfield was dominant in the girls field events, winning five of the seven competitions. Bridget Guy captured a pair of titles for the Spartans as she cleared 12-feet, 1-inch in the pole vault to beat teammate Lexi Masterson by seven inches, then took the long jump with 17-feet, 9 1⁄2-inches to beat another fellow Spartan, Maddie Holmberg, by four inches.
In the only two field events Hempfield didn't win, the high jump and discus, the Spartans finished second.
“My hat's off to (throws coach) Davy Murray because he's just done an excellent job and those kids are like his sons and daughters they spend so much time together,” Colland said. “He just works them so hard and they buy into it.”
While Hempfield's girls rode the success of the field events to the team title, the Spartans were hurt a bit on the track as their top sprinter, junior Jasmine Jones, is nursing an injury and isn't quite going all out at this point. Without her in peak condition, Oakland Catholic junior Taylor McCorkle dominated the sprints with wins in both the 100- and 200-meters.
While McCorkle won the title of fastest girl in the meet, Mt. Lebanon junior Troy Apke took the boys crown with an 11.28 seconds in the 100-meter finals. Apke, a Penn State football recruit, slid past Gateway's Cameron Gray by 0.04 seconds.
Apke also helped the Blue Devils 400-meter relay team to win the title with a 43.91-second finish that was 0.01 faster than the Erie Cathedral Prep foursome.
“This is his first experience running track and we're just tickled to death at what he's doing,” Mt. Lebanon boys track coach Mike Agostinella said of Apke. “I think the sky's the limit for him and he's going to come on like gangbusters.”
Ean DeSilvio was a two-time winner as the Allderdice senior took both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter titles. He was the only boy to win two individual crowns in either track or field.
The Hempfield boys won two events — the discus (Max Adams) and the 3,200-meter relay. The Spartans did have several runner-up finishes as Adams took second in the shot put and De'Lorian Day was second in the long jump and high jump.
Still, Hempfield isn't about to put itself in the catbird seat as the team to beat in the WPIAL team finals.
“That's pretty hard to say because I haven't seen all the teams,” Colland said. “But I'm pleased with where our kids are at and, if they stay healthy, we'll have a decent shot to do well at the team championships.”
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