Daily News Spotlight Athletes: Norwin's Brandan Moretton, South Allegheny's Meghan Kulka
Sport: Cross country
Claim to fame: Moretton placed fourth at the Westmoreland County Coaches' Association meet Thursday at Seton Hill University with a time of 17 minutes, 4.1 seconds. He will compete at the Tri-State Invitational on Thursday and the WPIAL championship meet on Oct. 25, both at Cooper's Lake Campground near Slippery Rock.
“Brandon knew if he put in the time and work over the summer that he would be rewarded,” first-year coach Brian Fleckenstein said. “He had a good summer and, coming into the season, I knew he was going to have a strong year. If he gets his time down to around 17 minutes, he should be OK.”
Is this your first WPIAL finals and what do you need to do to make states?
Well, I was there sophomore year and I was injured junior year, so this is my second time running. I have high expectations for myself going into it. I'm hoping to make states as an individual this year. I just need to go out with the front pack and run at least 17 minutes or under to make it. As of right now, I feel like I can. After Thursday's county meet I feel pretty confident I can stay with that front pack of guys and hang with them to the end.
What do you enjoy most about cross country?
I think I enjoy how it really bonds the team. With running, you get to know your teammates a lot better than other sports. Running is really difficult and you have to rely on your teammates to keep you going every day in practice. It's not an individual sport. It's a team sport. Not many people realize that. That's what brings teammates closer together.
What are your plans for college?
Right now, I'm about to apply to St. Vincent and Carnegie Mellon. I want to go for either civil engineering or economics. I hope to run as well. I've talked to the coach at St. Vincent. It's pretty good running school.
What do you like to do outside of school and cross country?
I like to play a lot of ping-pong. I started playing with my uncle on vacation five years ago in Florida. I got a table for Christmas and I've been playing ever since.
Are you better at ping-pong or running?
I'd like to say cross country, but ping-pong is getting up there.
How long have you been running?
I've been doing cross country since eighth grade. One of my friends got me into it. I just showed up at practice and did pretty well and just kept on running.
What is your best cross country memory?
If I had to pick a favorite, I would say running with my friends. I've met all of my good friends through cross country. You get to know all of the people you run with really well.
School: South Allegheny
Claim to fame: Kulka has had an outstanding season as a goalkeeper for South Allegheny, which has allowed only eight goals so far. She has helped lead the Gladiators to a 16-0 overall record, including a 12-0 Section 2-A mark that secured the program's first section title. They will participate in the WPIAL playoffs, which get under way this weekend.
“Goalie wasn't one of the question marks for us going into the season,” coach Jesse MacPherson said. “She doesn't make very many mistakes. Her reaction time is very good, and she is really good at coming out and contesting and cutting down angles. She has come up big in the big games this year.”
How did it feel to win the first section title in school history?
It's an amazing feeling. It's crazy. We've been in the playoffs the last few years, but this was very important. The girls team is kind of looked down on compared to the boys. We're proving that we can also do well. It's a huge accomplishment.
What other goals do you have for this season?
One was to win the section, and we accomplished that. Our next goal is to win our first playoff game. We are confident of doing that because we have a strong team this year.
Did you feel any pressure stepping into the starting goalkeeper position?
Not really. It was natural. I knew what I had to do, so I just had to go out and do it. I know Lauren (Peretich) last year set a high bar for me, and I think I'm achieving it so far.
What do you enjoy most about playing goalie?
I just like the pressure, I guess, the rush. It's an amazing adrenaline rush. It's awesome.
Does having played forward last season give you an advantage?
Yes, because when I was a forward I always tried to pick a corner or make the goalie not come out. I know how to cut down the angle and how forwards think. It definitely gives me an advantage.
Is soccer your favorite sport?
Soccer is my favorite sport because I've been playing since I was around 5, and it's always made me and my family proud to play. It's just my passion. It's what I love to do.
What is your favorite place to vacation?
Outer Banks, S.C. It's just relaxing, and playing soccer on the beach is fun.
What's your favorite band?
My favorite artist would have to be Jason Aldean.
Do you watch soccer and do you have a favorite player or team?
I watch it all the time. I like watching the U.S. women's national team. Hope Solo is my favorite player, by far. I'm reading her book, and she's a big inspiration to me. We both basically came from the same kind of background, so she inspires me to go for my dreams.