Hempfield track standout Bella Gera commits to Wake Forest

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020 | 7:20 PM


There are days that Hempfield throwing coach Dave Murray gives his athletes off to rest.

Senior Bella Gera does not heed his advice.

She’s a workaholic, always trying to get stronger and better, and her work has paid off even during the current pandemic.

Despite missing her junior season outdoor season and not being able to compete in the national indoor meet because of covid-19, Gera was still able to impress college recruiters and Monday committed to Wake Forest on a full scholarship.

“I was a little surprised,” Murray said. “She definitely deserves it. She’s top 10 in the country as a thrower and what schools like is she can score in multiple events.”

Gera qualified for the PIAA track championship as a sophomore and missed the finals by one spot in the shot put and discus.

But that disappointment turned into motivation.

“She can bench 225 pounds,” Murray said. “She owns the record and is the strongest girl I’ve ever coached.”

During the summer, Gera was able to compete in some virtual meets where she’d video tape her throw and then measure her mark. Her best mark is 44 feet, 7 inches.

“I’m shooting for a throw in the 49- and 50-foot range in the outdoor season,” Gera said. “When I first started throwing, I threw 31 feet.”

Gera competed in track in middle school, but missed her freshman season because on a knee injury.

Murray said he was attending a volleyball match and saw how athletic she was and encouraged her to come out for track. She’s a middle hitter on the volleyball team.

“She would have had a big junior season,” Murray said. “She had some of the best marks this summer. She’s one of the better throwers in the nation.”

Even after Gera announced her commitment to Wake Forest, she heard from three schools Tuesday trying to convince her to change.

She had numerous offers. That list includes Indiana, William & Mary, DePaul, North Carolina and Auburn. Murray said Penn State called him Monday.

She picked Wake Forest because of the campus and the teammates she met on her visit over the weekend.

“I just loved it there,” Gera said. “They needed an all-around thrower.”

Murray, like everyone, said he hopes the track season will take place. He said Gera should be one of the favorites.

“I’ve seen big throws in practice,” Murray said. “She has a shot at the school record and a state title. There are other good throwers in the state, but she’s up there with all of them.”

Mackenna Orie owns the school mark of 47-5.

Gera said Orie was her role model when she came out.

“My sophomore season, I learned a lot from Coach Murray,” Gera said. “It was really my first year. I worked hard to get stronger and improve my technique. Playing volleyball helped me with my explosion and all-around made me work even harder.”

Something Murray said Gera has no problem with — working hard.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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