Hempfield’s Liz Tapper looking to make history after defending PIAA shot put title

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Friday, May 26, 2023 | 6:09 PM


SHIPPENSBURG — In the history of great throwers at Hempfield, only Rachel Serafin (2011-13) was a multiple state champion in an event, winning three discus titles.

Senior Liz Tapper became the second multiple winner Friday at the PIAA Class 3A track and field championships at Shippensburg when she defended her shot put title with a throw of 45 feet, 2 inches. Her best of the season was 48-7.

“The number could have been better. I’m not completely upset with it,” Tapper said. “I came here and did what I wanted to do by defending my state championship. I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

Tapper looks to become the first Spartan thrower to be a two-time champion in two throwing events. While she has the best discus throw in the state of 159-9, she is seeded second at 152-8 behind Warwick senior Ella Lucas’ 157-7.

“I wanted to defend from last year and get one more win for Coach (Dave) Murray,” said Tapper, a Michigan commit. “I came here last year seeded second. It lets me know there is competition for me. I’m excited for the competition. Hopefully, everything goes well. I had a good week of practice.”

Three years ago, Tapper was strictly a pole vaulter. Now she has three gold medals in throwing and has given up the pole vault.

“Throwing wasn’t meant to be anything,” Tapper said looking back. “It was crazy. It was going to be my second event. The fact I got here is crazy. It’s sad that it’s ending.”

Murray takes silver

Hempfield junior Peyton Murray came into the 3A shot put seeded 11th. But by the end of the competition, he had turned in a throw of 54-7 into a silver medal. He finished second to Berks Catholic junior Brady Mider, who won with a throw 58-9 3/4. Connellsville senior Nathan Reese finished third with a throw of 54-6.

“I knew I was a better thrower than 11,” Murray said. “I knew second place was possible if I hit a good throw, and I feel 54-7 at the state meet is really good. Brady is really good. Maybe I can challenge him next year.”

Now Murray turns his focus to the discus, where he comes into the finals seeded first with a throw of 169-5. He has the top throw in the state of 182-1 and said he believes 177 should win the event.

“My goal is 177, and then I’ll go from there,” Murray said. “I’d like to hit a throw of 190, but winning is the ultimate result I’m looking for. Doing well in the shot put should give me the confidence I need heading into Saturday.”

Mazzoni happy with 2nd

Derry sophomore Sophia Mazzoni couldn’t have been happier with her second-place finish in the Class 2A javelin.

Mazzoni said she has come a long way after throwing 117 feet in the 2022 meet and missing the finals. Her throw of 143-2 was satisfying considering it was behind state record-holder Evelyn Bliss of Union-Allegheny Clarion Valley, who unleashed a PIAA 2A-record throw of 170-2.

Madison Wiltrout of Connellsville, a four-time Class 3A champion, owns the overall state mark of 182-5 in 2015. Wiltrout also owns the top throw in the country at 185-8.

“I’m extremely happy,” Mazzoni said. “Honestly, it’s amazing to where I have gotten to from what happened last year. I really have no words today that I’m just happy here as a sophomore.

“The next step for me is to continue to be consistent. Being consistent is probably my No. 1 goal because I feel if I’m consistent I can get to the higher level.”

Zelmore happy with third

Mt. Pleasant senior Tiffany Zelmore achieved her goal Friday in the Class 2A discus throw. She wanted to break her personal record of 120-1, and she did with a throw of 123-4.

The throw helped her earn a bronze medal. She will look for a second medal Saturday in the shot put.

“I’m happy with my performance,” Zelmore said. “I was hoping for a personal record, and I got it. But I came short of finishing second.”

Earning medals

The other Westmoreland County athletes to earn medals during Day 1 were: Norwin seniors Hannah Shaw (fourth in Class 3A pole vault) and Savannah Schneck (eighth in 3A shot put) and Ligonier sophomore John Jablunovsky (fourth in 2A high jump).

Shaw said her jumps weren’t too bad.

“It was better than the WPIAL championship,” Shaw said. “It was one of my better days. I got to attempt 12-9. I don’t think I was on a big enough pole, but it was a great way to end the season.”

Schneck was pleased with earning a medal but disappointed she didn’t throw farther.

She did break a personal record with three of her throws.

“I wanted to throw 39,” Schneck said. “But I’ll take a 37-10. The goal was to make it to states and place, and I did that.”

Schneck then headed back to Norwin to attend graduation.

Jablunovsky said he couldn’t ask anything more than winning a WPIAL title and placing at states.

“I’m a sophomore, and I know that I have to work harder if I want to come back,” Jablunovsky said. “I’m pleased with my effort.”

Jablunovsky cleared 6-2.

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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