West Xtra: After excellent debut, West Allegheny soph expects more

HIGH SCHOOL TRACK & FIELD


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In the words of West Allegheny track coach Jim Hamilton, "It's Lauren Costa time."

Costa stirred up the scene in WPIAL track last year. As a freshman, she won the district title in the 100-meter dash, and took third place in the 100-meter hurdles.

Costa was listed first on this week's WPIAL Class AAA Honor Roll for her 100-meter dash time of 12.1 seconds. Her 200-meter dash time of 24.74 was the fifth best among Class AAA competitors. Also, Costa was sixth on the honor roll for the 100-meter hurdles (15.31 seconds).

"We're at the end of the year where we could put her in a lot of different events," Hamilton said. "We'll eventually focus on something ... we're still not sure what we're going to put her in yet. We know the 100-meter dash for sure."

The impending postseason was not intimidating to Costa, even though she is still one of the younger athletes on the chart tops.

"I like it," she said. "People underestimate you when you're one of the younger people and they don't expect it. So it's better, because you get more confident but also more pumped up before races. [My opposition's] been around longer -- they've had more practice."

Costa actually began track and field as a seventh grader, saying that in middle school, track was just "the thing to do." She played soccer for West Allegheny this past fall, but she plans to use the coming fall season to further her strength-and-conditioning training for track.

"The running form is definitely one of the things I need to hit on," Costa said. "My starts and my running form could always use improvement."

"She could work on a [strength] base," Hamilton added.

"I always want to see my time improving ... Since I had a good freshman year, I'll always want to live up to that again," Costa said.

At the 2012 PIAA championship meet, Costa qualified for finals in the 100-meter dash and placed eighth with a time of 12.33 seconds. It was an experience she will never forget, due to the sheer size and magnitude of the PIAA meet.

But Costa felt that her experiences with her own teammates were more memorable.

"The bond of our team is different than what I've seen with other teams," she said. "We all get really close, even if we're not in the same group of friends."

Last week, the West Allegheny girls track team competed in a semifinal bracket against Mt. Lebanon, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Regional and Chartiers Valley.

Although Mt. Lebanon emerged as the clear winner, West Allegheny defeated the other three teams. The Indians' scores were 81-69 against Chartiers Valley, 85-65 against Thomas Jefferson, and 80-70 against Franklin Regional.

Costa was a heavy-hitter for West Allegheny that day. She ran the 100-meter dash, the 100-hurdles, the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter relay. She placed first in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and second in the 100-meter hurdles. The West Allegheny 400-meter relay also placed second.

Costa enjoyed competing in a five-team bracket.

"It's nice, because you're starting to get an idea of the other competition that you're going to see in the near future at bigger meets," she said.

For example, WPIAL individual qualifiers took place this past Tuesday.

"[Costa] has a good attitude and she'll do whatever you ask her to do," Hamilton said. "Many times she's had to compete in four events. She can even run a 400 ...and she never misses practice.

"She is with a nice group of sophomores, and that's how they all make each other better -- with a positive attitude."

West Allegheny's Lauren Costa placed eighth as a freshman last May in the 100-meter dash at the PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University. She said the experience has given her confidence to improve this year.

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