Valley News Dispatch spotlight athletes: Kiski Area's Ben Kinnamon, Deer Lakes' Maria Taliani
School: Kiski Area
Sport: Track and Field
Report card: Kinnamon placed first in the 200 and 400 meters at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Championships on Saturday. He also won the 200 last year at the WCCA meet.
What was more important to you, defending your title in the 200 or winning the 400?
I think defending my title is more important because the 200 is my favorite event.
You're about to come off the blocks in any race; what is your final thought before you take your first step?
There isn't too much I'm thinking of at that moment. I just tell myself to focus on what I'm taught to do and relax. I don't want to be too tense coming out of the blocks.
Have you ever thought about using your athletic abilities in another sport?
Not really. I've become so interested in track I haven't really considered branching off from there. I try to put all my energy into track and be as good as I can.
Any college plans?
I'm going to Allegheny College, and I'll be on the track team there.
School: Deer Lakes
Report card: Taliani is hitting .645 with four homers, four doubles and 16 RBIs.
What's it like having your dad, Craig, as your coach?
If I have a question, he's the person I feel most comfortable going to. At the end of the day, you come home and it's nice to talk to him about it. I love him so much, and I'm glad he's my coach and we can experience this together.
There aren't a lot of upperclassmen on the team. Do you feel any pressure to step up and be a leader?
Absolutely. I think we all agreed as a team that this is the best chemistry we've had together. There's pressure because you only have so many upperclassmen you want to do your best and pick each other up.
You had a canoe capsize on you and some friends in Deep Creek, Md.?
We were doing good until we got to the busy part of the water ... a wave rocked us over. The whole canoe is sinking and we had to pull it up out of the water, and at this point there's water down my throat and Maureen (Hutchinson) is screaming at me to get the boat from sinking and this lake is big. We must've pushed that canoe the length of a football field.
The home run you hit against Ford City landed in the river behind the field. Do you think you will be able to top that?
I think I might have to because (my grandpap) told me I need to. He told me he expects me to hit it out of PNC Park one day. That was pretty cool I knew it went out maybe into the tree branches, but I didn't expect to see that.
— D.J. Vasil