Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Hampton's Nathan Sloan, Oakland Catholic's Taylor McCorkle
Sport: Track and field
Claim to fame: Heading to Pitt to study engineering and run cross country and track next fall, Sloan won both the 1,600- (4:20.05) and 3,200-meter (9:41.77) runs Friday at the Pine-Richland Invitational.
What is your approach in each of the two lengthy races?
I think they're very different in my approach. The mile's a little shorter so my goal in that is to go out fast, kind of establish a good position so I don't get caught up in the pack. After that I like to settle in to the middle two laps, then I like to have a strong kick in the last 300 meters. … The two-mile is kind of a similar process, only a lot longer so I have to establish a good position, but I don't like to chase people in the beginning. Some guys go out real hard and I like to sit back and make sure I run my own race and not get too excited. Coming down the last lap or two I just find whatever I have left and throw that all into the race.
Is it difficult to maintain focus in those types of races?
Yeah, it can be sometimes. Especially when you get into some of the bigger races you kind of get caught up in the pack and lose touch with some of the top guys. In the middle couple laps you've got to try and stay focused to make sure you aren't slowing down too much.
Do you have any pre-race preparations or rituals?
Not too much, other than just the normal jog a little bit, make sure I stretch out. I don't know if it's a ritual, but I always have to do my leg swings and a couple jumps before the line and then get one stride in right before I walk up to the line.
Where do you think you stand among the rest of the top runners heading into the WPIAL meet?
I think I'm sitting in a pretty good position. I know there's definitely a couple other guys that will be pushing for the win going into the WPIAL meet, but I think I stand a good chance to hang with them and run a good race and hopefully be able to finish pretty high up.
School: Oakland Catholic
Sport: Track and field
Claim to fame: McCorkle swept both the 100- and 200-meter dashes Friday at the Pine-Richland Invitational. She ran the 100 in 12.15 seconds and crossed the finish line in the 200 in 25.61. Carrying a 4.0 GPA, she will continue her track career next year at Penn.
You won both events at Pine-Richland and the South Fayette Invitational. Are you just in the zone right now?
A little bit, only because my times before those two invitationals weren't as good as I wanted them to be, so when I came out and ran there I gained a lot of confidence from that.
You suffered a shin injury during basketball season. Did that have anything to do with the slow start?
I think it was because of the injury. My doctor said it would take about two months to heal and I had only given it a few weeks before I ran.
What do you enjoy most about the sprinting events?
I like the rush, the acceleration that you have to push through to beat other people because it's such a short race. It's fast right off the bat.
Has your string of recent success given you confidence heading into WPIALs?
Yes, it has. I will have to run against girls like Jasmine Jones (Hempfield) and good competitors. We've both beaten each other in the 100, but I haven't beaten her in the 200 so I gained a little more confidence.
— Alex Oltmanns