Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Gateway's Montae Nicholson, Ambridge's Kelly Haslett
Sport: Track and field
Claim to fame: Nicholson left the WPIAL Class AAA track championships at Baldwin with two gold medals and a bronze May 16. Nicholson won the 110-meter hurdles in a WPIAL meet record time of 14.39, ran a leg for the 400 relay team that finished in 41.89 and finished third in the long jump with a leap of 23 feet, 1 1⁄2 inches. Nicholson also has garnered Division I football interest from several national powerhouses.
How would you rate your performance at the WPIAL championship meet?
I feel like I performed well. Honestly, I was hoping to perform like that, but I didn't think I would. My coach even told me, “you had a day.”
Do you feel like running track will have you more prepared for football season?
It really helps maintain my speed and form when I run with the ball. Football players can be stiff, but track allows me to stay loose.
What are your goals for states this weekend?
I just want to medal. I want to go up there pretty much to experience states. Last year, I couldn't because I had a shoulder injury. I just plan on trying to go out there and medal.
How close are you to picking a college?
Over the summer, I'm going to take a lot of unofficial (visits). So, I'm not really close to making a decision yet.
Are you prepared for the attention that you will be receiving?
It hadn't really dawned on me. To me, it just doesn't matter. It just comes down to when I make my decision, it'll be where I have the best chance to succeed.
Claim to fame: Haslett tossed a no-hitter, striking out seven, to lead Ambridge to a 10-0 win over Laurel Highlands in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs at Fairhaven Park on May 16. Haslett — who bats third in the lineup and plays first base — was also the winning pitcher, with four strikeouts, in a 4-1 win over South Park on Monday in the quarterfinals. The Bridgers will play West Mifflin on Wednesday in the semifinals at North Allegheny.
What can you say about the success you've had so far in the playoffs?
It's crazy. I really just want to do the best I can for my team. I think I've done a pretty good job so far.
Does being a sophomore add to the nerves that go along with postseason play?
Well, if I'm ever nervous, my catcher, Jaymee Humbert, does a good job calming me down. There's really not much pressure because I know I have a great defense behind me.
Is it difficult not knowing if you or Hannah Smith will be the starting pitcher?
I just go through the warm up like I normally would and do what I know. If I'm pitching, I'll be prepared. If not, I'll play wherever coach wants me.
Does your play on the Pittsburgh Spirit travel squad give you any advantages?
We do get a chance to play teams from all over, and having multiple coaches who know a lot and give great advice does help. It shows you where you are when you play some of the good teams.
— Brian Graham