Sewickley Academy's Thorpe made program history in track and field
Summer Thorpe made school history in her final meet on the Sewickley Academy girls track team and looks forward to continuing her career at Notre Dame.
Thorpe, 17, of Ohio Township became the Panthers' first state track champion by claiming victory in the 100-meter hurdles at the PIAA Class AA championship meet in May.
Her time of 14.15 seconds set a school record and she single-handedly led the Panthers to 11th place.
“It feels great knowing I made history at a school that has had such an effect on me,” said Thorpe, who began attending Sewickley Academy in Pre-Kindergarten. “I feel really proud I could bring some (attention) to the (track) program.”
Notre Dame coach Alan Turner was impressed by Thorpe's showing.
Thorpe committed to the Irish women's squad in the spring.
“Summer's victory in (a mark of) 14.15 is very promising,” Turner said. “She shouldn't have any problems (running) solidly in the 13s next year.
“If she works hard, she will contribute to our strong women's hurdle group.”
Thorpe placed third in the 300 hurdles and was disappointed at first not to earn two gold medals.
Thorpe was first in both events and set a meet record of 43.86 in the 300 hurdles at the WPIAL championship earlier in May.
“At times like that, you have to put (things) in perspective and really be grateful for the things you have,” she said. “I did not want to celebrate a victory by (bringing) myself down by a single performance.”
Besides the 100 hurdles, Thorpe holds Sewickley Academy records in the 200 dash (26.67), 400 (1:00.23) and 300 hurdles (43.21). She also established a school standard as part of the 400 relay team.
Panthers' coach Derek Chimner said unrelenting drive made Thorpe a standout and will help her in college.
“Even as she was winning, she would always find a little flaw that she could make better,” he said. “She finds the motivation to push through her limits.”
Thorpe expects to be tested at Notre Dame, which was 25th at the NCAA outdoor championship this year.
“I know it will be a completely (different) atmosphere than what I'm used to,” she said. “The training will be (substantially) more demanding.
“I have no idea what I'm in for, but can't wait to find out.”
Thorpe will be the third member of her immediate family to compete in track for a Division I school.
Her father, Jerry, was a sprinter at Kent State in the 1980s, while her sister, Aja, was a freshman hurdler and sprinter for Yale this year.
Aja Thorpe was WPIAL champion in the 100 hurdles in 2015.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.