Gateway throwers Jones, Corrie set sights on WPIAL, PIAA success

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Friday, April 19, 2019 | 8:48 PM


Shelly Jones and Sarah Corrie both earned throwing medals at last year’s WPIAL Class AAA track and field championships.

The Gateway seniors picked up respective seventh-place finishes — Jones in the shot put and Corrie in the javelin.

Now, the veteran duo has their sights set on improving at WPIALs and breaking through to states.

“I want to focus on the goals I set after WPIALs last year,” said Corrie, who threw the javelin a career-best 123 feet, 4 inches in the season-opening meet against McKeesport. “I missed states last year by two feet. I put in a lot of work in the offseason. My goal is to get a best distance at WPIALs and see where that puts me. Hopefully, it will get me to states. Hopefully, the hard work pays off.”

Shoulder issues kept Corrie away from throwing in practice or meets for close to two weeks, but she returned to practice last week and has plans to compete at Friday’s Mars Invitational.

“It felt good to get the javelin in my hand again,” said Corrie, who has fielded college interest from the likes of Duquesne, Seton Hill and Slippery Rock.

“It was hard to not be able to work out or compete. But it also was good for me to get a little rest. I know I will be better for it. I am really excited to throw at Mars.”

Jones first posted a career best in the shot — 36-8¾ — at the section meet against Franklin Regional and Woodland Hills on April 10 at Gateway High School. It was five inches further than her best throw at WPIALs last year.

She erased that mark and set a new top throw of 37-8 for second place at the Thursday’s Butler Invitational. A throw of 36-0 in her final attempt of the first round put her as the No. 1 seed for the finals.

“It felt like such a relief because I knew I hadn’t been throwing my best recently,” Jones said. “The competition really helped. I just kept making little adjustments throughout the competition.

“My adrenaline was pumping. I knew I had something else in me (after the first round). It felt amazing. I felt I performed the best I could that day.”

Jones released her best throw in her second attempt in the finals. Kiski Area senior Jean Starr won the event with a top heave of 39-6½.

“They went back and forth trading first and second place,” said Mo Washington, a Gateway assistant coach for the shot put and discus. “It was a really good matchup.”

Jones placed 10th in the discus (102-7) at Butler. Her career best of 102-11 came earlier this season.

Jones also is gearing up for the Mars Invitational and another chance to fuel her drive to WPIALs.

“Competing in these big meets is kind of like a happy anxiety for me,” Jones said. “I am happy that I am making it this far and surviving. The anxious part comes from seeing all the top girls, how they’re throwing and seeing where I am at and how I can improve myself to beat their marks.”

The WPIAL championships now are less than a month away — May 16 at Slippery Rock University.

The top 24 performers in each individual and relay event from meets throughout the regular season will earn a spot in the WPIAL field.

“(All of the throwers) have worked on a lot of things in season to improve our explosiveness with our throws,” said Jones, who will compete in college at Clarion. “We’re working a lot on the driving part of our throws with our hips and legs.”

On the latest WPIAL Class AAA performance list released April 17, Corrie was in the top spot for javelin. Her 123-4 is better than the state qualifying standard.

Jones’ distance in the shot put at Butler should move her into the top five on the performance list. Others leading the way include Starr, Hempfield senior Mackenna Orie, Penn Hills senior Lillia Allen and Hempfield sophomore Isabella Gera.

Orie and Allen have shot put distances this season that exceed 43 feet.

“Sarah and Shelly feed off each other and drive each other to be their best,” Washington said.

“They really want to go to states together.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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