West/North Xtra: Four sisters form a unique relay team for OLSH


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Every Christmas the Lohmann sisters open a group present that is meant to keep them outdoors and active.

This past Christmas, the family's set of triplets -- Monica, Angela and Anna -- and their younger sister Maria, found a blue relay baton under the tree with a gift tag reading, "To: Team Lohmann."

It was certainly a gift that all four could share ... and they do.

These four siblings are members of the basketball, cross country, and track and field teams at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School in Moon. Their similarity in age has always drawn them to the same activities.

Although they are primarily distance runners -- as their cross country background might suggest -- the sisters dreamed of running the 400-meter relay event as a team... and a family.

"It is similar to the games we played in grade school. We always liked running around, instead of running the same thing for miles," Angela said. "Everyone saw me do it last year, so we wanted to try it together."

They began practicing exchanges on the sidewalk with a paper towel roll when Maria was still in eighth grade. That's when their mother, Diane, decided to buy them the baton.

When OLSH coach Bob Berg caught wind of the "present," it was hard for him to say no to the girls.

"It's kind of unique," Berg said. "I never would have thought to put them together. They are pretty much versatile."

Together they ran a 56.33 in the 400-meter relay for a ninth place finish at the South Fayette Invitational this past Saturday.

They ran their team best, 55.45, at Beaver Area in the final Section 3-AA meet of the season.

The OLSH girls team finished second in their section and were scheduled to compete in the semifinal round of the team championships Wednesday.

Although their top time doesn't rank among the best in WPIAL Class AA, the sisters have plenty of time to work on improving that, considering that the triplets are just sophomores and "little sister" Maria is a freshman.

Individually, Monica recorded Class AA WPIAL-qualifying times against Beaver in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. She placed fourth in the 100 and ninth in the 200 at South Fayette.

Maria sticks to mostly longer distances in the 3,200 and 800-meter individual and relay events. Anna joins her on the 3,200 and also competes in the 400. Angela competes on the 1,600-meter relay team and the 400.

Because OLSH doesn't have its own track, the team often practices in the school parking lot.

Occasionally, the Chargers are able to use the facilities at Moon Area High School or Robert Morris University.

"It makes it difficult," Berg said. "In order to practice I have to measure out an area by the school, but then they don't have turns to run."

The Lohmanns use their connection as sisters to try and overcome the obstacle of practicing without a track. They also take advantage of their extra time together to practice at the Pine-Richland track, which isn't far from their Pine Township residence, where they can mark off their steps and improve their hand-offs.

"We know each other inside and out," Maria said. "We know what the other person is thinking."


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