Hempfield runners prepare for WCCA meet
Heading into next week's Westmoreland County Coaches Association meet, the Hempfield boys and girls cross country teams have the same thought in mind — improvement.
While the boys team is 1-4 and the girls are 3-2, both teams have come a long way since practice began Aug. 17.
“At first we weren't sure how we were going to do, but I think the more we practiced and the more we worked together and ran together, because that's what coach's goal is, to try and run together as a team. We were definitely improving, and I can definitely see it,” said Michelle Burns, a junior captain on the girls team.
The girls team enters the county meet looking to improve after narrow section losses to Norwin and Latrobe.
Led by Burns and fellow captain Rachel Fiaschetti, the team also relies on senior Alex DeRiso, a first-year runner.
“Both teams, I'm looking forward to seeing them continue to improve, and if I can get all of my girls to run well on the same day I think we'll do pretty decent at the county meet,” Hempfield coach Ron Colland said.
Burns posted an impressive mark at last year's county meet, with a 10th place finish and a time of 21:12.70. While that was good enough to medal, Burns is hoping to run better at the Oct. 15 meet at Westmoreland County Community College.
“I just want to keep improving, and I definitely want to help my team get at least in the top three. … I think as long as we work together and run together then that should help us all improve,” she said. “I just want to do better than last year.”
The boys team is led by captains Jordan Stack and Noah Richason. Gavin Mayo and junior Nick Spino, along with freshmen Matt Bartus and Logan Ali, round out the Spartans top runners.
Colland noted that with a team comprised of several runners competing at the varsity level for the first time, the leadership of all four of his team captains has helped the Spartans move forward.
“They're pretty good leaders, and they have a lot of responsibility when we go to meets and so forth,” he said. “But they also make sure that their teammates warm up and cool down properly and try and prepare them for the races they're getting ready to run.”
Much like Burns, Stack also registered a strong finish at last year's meet, crossing the finish line in sixth place with a time of 17:47.70.
With the meet just under a week away, Colland is hoping Stack can medal again, along with several members of the girls team.
“There are 15 individual medals that will be awarded,” he said. “Hopefully, we'll have at least one or two for the boys. I think Jordan should medal if he runs well, and we'll have to see about the other guys because there's some pretty good competition on the boys side, as there is on the girls side.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.