South Xtra: Lebo hurdler out to retain her title

HIGH SCHOOL TRACK & FIELD

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Mt. Lebanon senior hurdler Beatrice Goodyear is fast, hardworking and talented.

She won the WPIAL Class AAA championship in the 100-meter hurdles last May, clocking an impressive 14.62 seconds. She also placed 10th in the WPIAL finals for the 300-meter hurdle event in 48.28 seconds.

All of this happened after Goodyear's first season as a hurdler. For Goodyear, the Mt. Lebanon track experience has been unforgettable.

Goodyear recalls running with some of her teammates as early as elementary school.

"Julie Galante and Emelia Ricciuti," Goodyear said. "The three of us were on a relay that ran together in sixth grade. I've probably been running with those two the longest time."

For his part, Ken Wentzel, Goodyear's coach at Mt. Lebanon, appreciates her efforts.

"I've coached [Goodyear] all four years of high school, but she didn't start hurdling until after her sophomore year. She was just high-jumping at that point," Wentzel said.

Wentzel explained that he had recognized hurdling talent in Goodyear, and encouraged her to pick up the event. With a summer and fall of hard work between her sophomore and junior year, Goodyear became a successful hurdler.

"It's unusual," Wentzel said. "She was able to win the WPIAL in her first year of hurdling."

In the 100-meter hurdles race at WPIAL individual championships, Goodyear took first place by 0.34 seconds ahead of Hempfield sophomore Maddie Holmberg, the runner-up. The two raced side-by-side in the finals.

Goodyear agreed that Holmberg's presence made her run faster.

"I could see her right next to me, and I know when I'm behind and I know when I'm ahead ... you can't deny you know who's running next to you," she recalled.

Goodyear still high jumps for Mt. Lebanon, and she has faced equally tough competition at the pit. In a dual meet against Bethel Park in late April last year, Goodyear found herself in a jump-off with Bethel Park's Paige Kochka-Puskar. The two jumpers were tied for first place, but it was Goodyear who broke the tie by clearing 5 feet, 3 inches for the win.

"It's funny, because Paige and I went to track camp a few years ago," Goodyear said. "All of the high jumpers are really close and we talk a ton."

The closeness has made it fun for Goodyear to have such a close rivalry with Kochka-Puskar. Although she edged her at the dual meet, she finished tied for 12th at the WPIAL championships, clearing 4-11. Kochka-Puskar tied for sixth at 5-1.

When asked if she thought she could outjump her rival again, Goodyear said, "I think I could do another jump-off this year, but Paige is a great jumper."

Goodyear has continued the jumping and hurdling almost non-stop since last spring. In February, she went to states in indoor track and field. During the weekend of Feb. 23-24, she placed ninth in the 60-meter hurdles event.

Now, Goodyear takes pride in being the best teammate she can be to all of her Mt. Lebanon teammates, seniors and underclassmen.

"We have a nice group of kids who are juniors and seniors," Wentzel said. "There are about 15 kids who are hurdling right now. [Goodyear] is definitely one of the leaders of the team, and of the [hurdling] group specifically. She's very easy to get along with -- she's got a good sense of humor, the whole package ... she's just a really great kid."

Goodyear has committed to Dartmouth for college track, but her senior season with Mt. Lebanon is her focus for now.

"This is probably one of the strongest teams Mt. Lebanon has had," Goodyear said. "I'm looking forward to everyone running well this year, with how long we've been together."

The snowy weather in the early season forced Mt. Lebanon team practices inside. The Blue Devils were relegated to weight lifting and "carpet pulls" -- exercises in which harnessed athletes pulled their teammates on a dragged carpet.

But Goodyear still had a definitive response when she was asked if it would be hard to leave at graduation.

"Yes, definitely," she said. "I've gotten really close with some of the underclassmen hurdlers. It's going to be really hard to leave them."

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