HS TRACK AND FIELD: Saltsburg's Moore is unliklely district champion
ALTOONA — The instant the shot put left her hand, Corrine Moore knew she had unleashed one of the better throws of her young career. She just couldn’t have imagined it would bring her a district title.
The Saltsburg sophomore uncorked a throw of 33 feet, 1ﾽ inches, to surprise herself as much as the rest of the field and was crowned the shot put champion at the District 6 Class AA Championships at Mansion Park on Tuesday.
Moore and Penns Manor junior Sarah DaBella won district titles to highlight the local competitors, and in all, eight area girls and two relay teams qualified for the PIAA Championships.
“I just felt like I exploded (through my throwing motion) better, and it was just a better throw,” Moore said. “I could just tell it was good.”
Still very much a newcomer to the shot put in her first month of throwing it, Moore entered the meet seeded 11th in the 15-thrower field.
Her season-best throw entering the meet was 30-11, and admittedly, Moore said she didn’t even expect to finish in the top five.
That’s what made her win was one of the biggest surprises of the meet.
“It’s crazy. I wasn’t expecting to do this well,” she said, still surprised hours after winning the title. “This came as a really big surprise.”
Meanwhile, DaBella entered the meet as the top seed in the discus with one goal in mind: qualify for the state meet, which didn’t necessarily require winning an event. The top three finishers in every event qualify, and any competitors outside the top three who meet the state-qualifying standard.
“My coach said we were coming here with one goal, and it’s get to the next level,” a beaming DaBella said. “But winning it is even better than what I expected it to be.”
She won with a throw of 109-8 to punch her first ticket to Shippensburg as a competitor.
“I’m excited more than anything because I’ve been to the state track meet with my family,” DaBella said. “Having seen the atmosphere, it’s going to be so much fun to throw. I’m excited to go.”
Other local girls who claimed top-three finishes and qualified for the PIAA meet were: United’s Kennedy Fletcher, who posted a pair of second-place finishes in the discus (107-7) and the javelin (109-10); Homer-Center’s Heather Paynter, who also posted two second-place finishes in the 1,600- (5:24.90) and 3,200-meter (11:54.68) runs; Penns Manor’s Jennifer Knezovich, who took second in the triple jump (35-3ﾽ), and Devon Bratton, who was third in the pole vault 9-0; and Marion Center’s Camber Heinle in the 400-meter dash (1:00.75).
Marion Center’s Hannah Fulton finished fourth in the 1,600 (5:30.40) and initially didn’t qualify for the state meet. But when district champion Alyssa Brandis from Central Cambria withdrew from the PIAA meet in that event to focus on winning the state title in 3,200, Fulton earned a spot at states for the second straight year.
Also returning for a second straight year, but for the first time in individual events is Paynter, one of two area girls to qualify in two individual events.
A sophomore shouldered with the task of following in Angel Piccirillo’s footsteps, she took second in both of the long-distance races. Last season, she was part of Homer-Center’s state-qualifying 1,600 relay team.
“I’m excited for it, second year back,” the petite Paynter said. “It’s really big and exciting for me. I’m hoping to go there and get a medal. Always go for gold. I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”
Heinle is a newcomer to District 6, having transferred into the Marion Center School District prior to the start of the current school year, but the senior made most of her lone appearance at the district meet. She qualified in one individual event and will run on Marion Center’s 3,200 relay at states. Along with Heinle, the relay includes Danielle Fulmer, Taylor Woodrow and Fulton.
“This is kind of my first official year in track so it’s exciting to be able to do something like that,” Heinle said.
She came tantalizingly close to the school record in taking third place in the 400 with a time of 1:00.75 seconds, less than a blink of an eye from the record of 1:00.48.
“Oh yeah, that’s on my mind,” she said with a smile. “It’s just, ahhh, tenths of a second away. It’s hard. But I’m hoping to break 60 (seconds) at states, maybe.”
Heinle transferred from Elderton following the closing of the school last summer, the second closing in the past five years. During her time at Elderton, Heinle never got to experience a complete track and field season because the school didn’t have a team.
“We didn’t have a track team but we were allowed to run at Ford City if we had a coach or some adult there with us to supervise us,” she explained. “So me and another girl ran, and we really only went to two meets. We weren’t really in the program. … I did softball and track, and I was more (geared) towards softball than track.”
“This is awesome,” she continued. “I have amazing coaches. And my teammates, you couldn’t find a better team. Everybody is there for each other, and that’s what pushed us through the relay. We ran for each other.”
Ligonier Valley’s 1,600 relay team consisting of Jasmine Connor, Miranda Campbell, Madi McLaughlin and Stephanie Heming was the other area team to qualify with a second-place finish.
The Rams’ quartet came on strong at the end of the season to peak at the perfect time. All four girls on the relay will be making their first appearance at the state meet.
“It’s pretty exciting and completely unexpected, said Campbell, the only senior on the relay team. “We’ve been dropping time like crazy recently. We were hoping to break our school record today, which we didn’t quite get, but we’re going to states, so that’s exciting. We’re hoping to at least break the school record at states, if not go further.”