Sophie Pilkinton’s last three sports seasons ended the same way — with a state championship.
The junior forward helped lead Harpeth Hall to the Division II-AA girls soccer title in the fall.
Then she led the swim team to its 10th state championship in the winter, finishing second in two events and in the top three in two relays.
Pilkinton completed her 3-for-3 showing by helping the track and field team win the Division II title in the spring.
Those are among the reasons she is The Tennessean 2014 girls athlete of the year.
“It’s one thing to be the best in your sport,” Harpeth Hall track coach Jim Romero said. “It’s another thing to be in the top in two sports, and it’s another thing to be in the top in three sports. She was a major role player and key athlete in all three of those sports.”
Pilkinton is the first Harpeth Hall athlete to win three state titles in the same school year since Allie Bohannon accomplished the feat in 2002-03. Bohannon helped the Bears win titles in cross country, basketball and track. She ran track at UCLA.
“Sophie had an impact in all of those seasons to where you could look at almost any of them and say, ‘I don’t know that that state championship would have happened without her,’ ” Harpeth Hall soccer coach Meggie Lucas said. “I think that’s something to be said in and of itself — not just be part of the team, but to be an integral part of the team.”
Pilkinton, who had three goals and six assists, missed five weeks with a sprained ankle.
“To get her back for the state tournament was huge,” Lucas said.
Harpeth Hall (18-2) defeated previously unbeaten Father Ryan 2-1 to win its first title.
Pilkinton’s best sport is swimming, and her top event is the 200-yard individual medley. She earned All-America honors in that event with a personal record 2:01.42 that ranked as one of the nation’s top 100 times.
She also took second in the 100 freestyle in 51.71.
Pilkinton led off the 200 relay’s second-place finish (1:37.61) and she led off the 400 relay’s third-place showing (3:32.37).
“She’s a top swimmer, for sure,” Harpeth Hall swimming coach Polly Linden said. “She definitely trains swimming year-round on top of her other sports.”
Pilkinton helped the Bears win their 15th state title in track. She won the 800 meters in 2:16.81 for her third straight title as Harpeth Hall swept the top three spots with Reagan Freeman and Claire Smith. She also helped the 4×400 and 4×800 relay teams win state titles.
“(The track team title) did come down to the last relay,” Pilkinton said. “It was our 4×400 and I was about to run my leg and the official told me, ‘If you win or get second, you win the state championship. But if you get third or lower, (Brentwood Academy) wins.’ So I was sitting there on line, thinking, ‘Oh, no, I have to run fast.’ Yes, I did feel some pressure, but it just made it that much more exciting.”
Harpeth Hall won by four points over Brentwood Academy, the 2013 and 2012 champion.
She was extra busy her freshman year when she also played basketball.
“That was one of the most challenging things I’ve had to do, balancing four sports with school,” Pilkinton said. “I had to miss the state tournament for basketball because of the state championship for swimming. But growing up I did all of those sports, plus cross country and lacrosse.”
Pilkinton and her teammates had some extra motivation to win the titles.
“It was especially special because it was our (head of school Ann) Teaff’s, her last year,” Pilkinton said. “I think there couldn’t have been a better way to send her off.”
Reach Chip Cirillo at 615-664-2194 and on Twitter @ChipCirillo.
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