Hempfield’s Blahovec and Tapper continue to improve

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 | 5:56 PM

Hempfield track and field coach Ron Colland has been pleasantly surprised with some of the performances his athletes this season, especially juniors Cydney Blahovec and Liz Tapper.

Blahovec is coming off a strong performance at the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association track and field championships, where she won the 800-meter run and bettered her time from the PIAA championships.

She ran a personal record of 2 minutes, 18.53 seconds. She ran a 2:18.82 in the 2021 WPIAL finals and a 2:20 at the PIAAs.

Blahovec also placed third in the 400 and anchored the 3,200 and 1,600 relay teams. The 3,200 relay won, and the 1,600 team finished second.

“I’m pleased with some of the individual times I’m seeing,” Colland said. “She did look good. Maybe Cydney was a little pumped and determined to do well at counties.”

Blahovec said she was able to match her PR from a year ago.

“I was a little nervous because I ran the 400 right before the 800,” Blahovec said. “But I kept with the second girls for the first lap, but I went out on the second lap and ended up winning it.”

Blahovec said she doesn’t train for the 400, but it was nice to get third. She was pleased with her time.

She teamed up with Lily Murphy, Alicia Weimer and Julia Snider in the 3,200 and with Snider, Murphy and Alexa Gray in the 1,600.

“We ran a good time,” Blahovec said. “But with the heat, it could have been better.”

Blahovec’s goal is to break 2:18 and continue to improve her times.

Latrobe track coach Andy Wnek joked with Tapper and asked her if she was going to graduate early.

He knows that Tapper is an automatic 15 points in a dual meet. Tapper, who holds school records in the shot put and discus, also competes in the pole vault.

She played along with the joke, saying she’s thinking about adding a fourth event her second year.

“I jumped 5 feet in the high jump when I was in middle school,” Tapper said.

Tapper set a meet and school record in winning the shot put with a throw of 47 feet, 1½ inches. She won the discus with a throw of 150-7.

“It was a pretty good day,” Tapper said. “Overall, I’m pleased.”

Her best throw is 164-4 as she closes in on the state record of 168-11 held by Greensburg Central Catholic’s Colleen Rosensteel, set in 1984.

Tapper ranks No. 1 in the state and No. 3 in the country in the discus with a throw of 164-4 this season.

She placed second in the pole vault 11-1. She cleared 12-2 early in the season.

“It’s amazing what she’s been able to do,” Colland said. “I heard her (say) she may add the high jump. She’s pretty good.”

Tapper was in Philadelphia competing in the pole vault at the Penn Relays. She plans to compete there as a senior but in the throws.

Hempfield throwing coach Dave Murray said Michigan and Penn State were the recent colleges to inquire about Tapper.

“When the season began, I was just hoping to throw 150,” Tapper said. “Now I’m hoping to throw 170 and 50 in the shot. I’d like the school record in the pole vault. I just got on new poles, and I’m excited about the rest of the season.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.


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