From snowboarding to javelin, North Allegheny’s Alaina Fantaski is a determined champion
Saturday, May 20, 2023 | 11:01 AM
North Allegheny senior Alaina Fantaski was a nationally ranked snowboarder in junior high, who also tried fencing and more traditional activities like basketball.
“I’ve done every sport,” said Fantaski, but she wanted a new challenge after putting away her snowboard freshman year.
“I knew I had to do something and I knew I could throw well,” she said. “So I was like, ‘I’ll try the javelin. That looks like fun.’”
Three years later, Fantaski is a WPIAL champion with a personal-best this season that ranks among the top throwers in the state. But it didn’t just happen.
“She is somebody who has really busted her butt and improved,” NA coach John Neff said. “Consistent hard work and desire, that’s what she is. She’s like a picture of athletics.”
Fantaski threw her personal best of 142 feet, 1 inch at the WPIAL team track championship May 9. Her throw was the sixth-best in the state this season and ranked her among the top 40 girls nationally, according to Milesplit.com statistics.
Another throw that day topped 139 feet, proving her distance was no fluke.
“I normally throw off of grass at NA,” she said. “The track runway (at West Mifflin) helps a lot with the speed. But I don’t know. It just went. Sometimes it goes.”
She followed up a week later by winning the girls Class 3A title at the WPIAL track and field championships May 17. On a blustery day, her winning throw of 137-9 was more than four feet farther than anyone else’s mark.
“I’ve been training extra hard,” she said. “It’s not like I only train during track season. I trained all summer and all winter.”
Fantaski will next try to medal at states. The PIAA championship is May 26-27 at Shippensburg.
Winning medals isn’t new to her.
As a competitive snowboarder with a team from Seven Springs, Fantaski competed in events at ski resorts in Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Jersey and Virginia. In her age group, she was nationally ranked in two events, the rail jam and slopestyle.
“At that point, schools wanted me go to school for snowboarding,” she said. “They wanted me to leave high school and go to their high school. I said no.”
Fantaski took up javelin in 2020 and was throwing 80 feet as a freshman, but that ninth grade season was ultimately canceled in the early days of the pandemic.
The statewide shutdown of sports chased away some would-be athletes from this year’s senior class, but Fantaski stuck with javelin.
She finished sixth in the WPIAL as a sophomore (112-10) and 10th as a junior (107-2). This spring started with her throwing close to 120 feet, and her distance increased throughout the season.
Fantaski plans to attend Colorado for college, and intends to bring her snowboard with her to Boulder. She has already reached out to the school’s track coaches, hoping they’ll find a spot for her on the roster.
“I’m definitely going to snowboard,” she said, “and I definitely want to throw javelin there too.”
North Allegheny turned in four gold-medal winning performances at the WPIAL championships at Slippery Rock.
In addition to Fantaski’s first-place finish in javelin, sophomore Isabella Costa won the 400 meters (57.30) and was part of the gold-medal winning 1,600-meter relay with senior Chloe Reed and freshmen Maya Currie and Mackenzie Winning (3:59.19).
Senior Owen Curran won gold for the NA boys team in the 110 hurdles (15.07).
The North Allegheny girls and boys also placed first in the Class 3A team standings, edging Canon-McMillan in both meets.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
Tags: North Allegheny
More High School Sports• Knoch graduate Jordan Geist wins NCAA shot put title for Arizona
• High school scores, summaries and schedules for June 7, 2023
• High school roundup for June 7, 2023: Mt. Lebanon boys lacrosse wins PIAA opener
• What to watch for in WPIAL sports on June 7, 2023: 21 baseball, softball teams venture into state quarterfinals
• After knocking off state’s No. 1-ranked team, Penn-Trafford baseball stares down WPIAL champs