Plum’s Linhart excels at PIAA championships

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Friday, June 1, 2018 | 10:36 PM


Last year, Plum's Hunter Linhart placed 17th in the discus at the WPIAL Class AAA track and field championships at Baldwin.

He refocused his efforts in the offseason and returned this spring with a goal of doing the things necessary to finish at the top of the heap in the WPIAL and qualify for the PIAA championships for the first time.

That goal became a reality May 17 when he finished fourth in the discus at WPIALs. His top throw of 146 feet, 8 inches also produced an automatic berth to the state meet.

At states May 26 at Shippensburg, Linhart had to bide his time until his opportunity to compete.

The Class AAA boys discus was the fourth overall field session, and it came on Day 2 of the championships. When it was Linhart's turn, he unleashed his personal best. He finished 10th with a throw of 147-7.

“Hunter was really ready to compete,” Plum coach Nick Oto said. “We told him to go in with confidence and no fear. He wanted to get his best and worry how it would work out after that. A lot of kids go up there and don't perform their best. It ended up working out well for him.”

Linhart was the top finishing underclassmen. In fact, those who finished 11th through 13th also were seniors.

The top eight made the finals, and WPIAL champion Zach Gehm, a senior from Seneca Valley, was golden again with the best throw of the competition, a 194-8 which placed him on the National Federation of High Schools honor roll.

The WPIAL runner-up, South Fayette's Sam Mastro, added a fifth-place finish (166-5).

Linhart heads into his senior year with the goal of breaking the school record of 154-8 set by his father, Luke, in 1991.

Bruce Linhart, Hunter's grandfather, still holds the Penn Hills discus record of 168-1 set in 1959.

Five other Plum athletes capped their 2018 outdoor seasons at WPIALs.

Junior Madeline Monick earned her third WPIAL medal with a seventh-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles (15.53 seconds). She logged a season-best 15.48 in the prelims to earn a spot in the finals.

She missed qualifying for states by three one-hundredths of a second (15.50). The top four in the finals at WPIALs automatically qualified for the PIAA meet, as well as any of the others in the top eight whose finals time equaled or bettered the state qualifying standard set by the PIAA.

Monick added a 20th in the 300 hurdles.

Last year, Monick picked up medals in the 100 and 300 hurdles.

Freshman Logan Parker made his WPIAL debut and earned a 12th-place finish in the shot put with a season-best distance of 44-10½.

Parker also was 13th in the discus (122-2).

Also competing at WPIALs was sophomore Angela Valotta in the 1,600 run (16th, 5:33.71), Olivia Pernice in the triple jump (24th, 30-11) and Emme Lawton in the discus (21st, 90-4).

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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