West Xtra: It's two more golds for Hopewell star

HIGH SCHOOL TRACK & FIELD

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She's no lawyer, but most of Hopewell senior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough's accolades have come for her performance on a court -- the basketball and volleyball kind.

Today, she's in the news for her track and field escapades.

Walker-Kimbrough won WPIAL Class AAA girls championships in the long jump and triple jump events last Thursday at Baldwin. She won her long-jump title with a 19-foot, 23/4-inch leap. Her best triple jump covered 37-113/4 .

Her winning long jump distance last Thursday wasn't even her best mark this season. She actually went 19-31/2 while competing against Hempfield's Maddie Holmberg at the Baldwin Invitational on May 3.

It was a nerve-wracking experience, even for Walker-Kimbrough, who has competed in many high-profile athletic events during her prestigious high school career.

"In the prelims, I jumped an 18-10 ... and [Holmberg] jumped an 18-113/4," said Walker-Kimbrough. "I, like, started panicking."

Walker-Kimbrough fouled in her first run of finals, so Holmberg elected to scratch. Gaining momentum, Walker-Kimbrough jumped an 18-11 on her next attempt. Holmberg did not get further.

"On my last jump, I had to get 19 and I'd never hit 19 before," Walker-Kimbrough said. "I jumped and it felt good."

Walker-Kimbrough waited for what seemed like forever, but the measurement came back at 19-31/2. She had beaten Holmberg for first place at the Baldwin Invitational.

"Right before she jumped the final jump. I said to my assistant coach [Jeff Brunton], 'If anybody can jump 19, she can,'" Hopewell track coach Tim Monske recalled. "That's the main reason she jumped 19 -- she definitely wanted to win."

Walker-Kimbrough has goals to meet for this weekend's PIAA track and field championships. She explained that she wanted to win a state championship or to place very high. In the triple-jump, Walker Kimbrough hopes to achieve a 38-foot jump.

To increase her triple-jump distances, Walker-Kimbrough works with Brunton on her form using "bounding" exercises. She also trains with weights shaped like tea kettles.

"Kettle bell swings are explosive movements that mimic jumping," Brunton said. "Since you don't leave the ground, you don't have to land. It's easier on the joints."

Walker-Kimbrough said she enjoys the control she has over her track and field performance. Although she will attend the University of Maryland for basketball next year, Walker-Kimbrough cites track as her second-favorite sport.

"It's like it's me against everyone else," she said.

She appreciates that her results are hers alone.

This weekend, Walker-Kimbrough will be competing in her fourth PIAA state championship meet. Last year, she earned fourth place in the triple-jump with a distance of 37-4.

Walker-Kimbrough's experience has made her a leader on the Hopewell track team.

"She interacts very well with her teammates," Monske said. "She's the type of person who gives advice to some of the younger kids ... She's more of a leader by example than a vocal leader."

"I am going to miss most [Walker-Kimbrough's] work ethic," Monske said. "I've never had someone with so much talent who worked so hard.

"She's been a joy the past four years. I love the idea that she is so talented, but it's her desire to win and her work ethic that make her fun to have around."

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