Hempfield’s Norris wins gold medal; Spartans girls place 2nd

Saturday, May 29, 2021 | 8:08 PM

SHIPPENSBURG — A little more than three inches kept Dan Norris from winning two gold medals at the PIAA Class AAA track and field championships Saturday.

Norris kept the Hempfield tradition of great throwers going when he won the discus with a personal-record throw of 195 feet, 10 inches. It was the final throw of his high school career.

He brought home Hempfield’s 10th state title in throwing events. He joins Max Adams (2014), Weston Banks (two in 2007), Hayden Fox (2017). Beth Obruba (1995), Samantha Fetter (2006), Kim Kanala (2007) and Rachel Serafin (two in 2010).

The senior finished second in the shot put. Somerset senior Dustin Hyde, whose family is originally from the Southmoreland school district, edged Norris with a throw of 59-8. Norris went 59-5.

Hyde followed in his brother’s footsteps in winning the shot put. Nick Hyde was the Class AA winner in 2019.

Norris wasn’t the only person celebrating. Hempfield’s Bella Gera, Elizabeth Tapper, Capri DeCaro, Makayla Lander and Cydney Blahovec helped the Spartans finish second as a team.

Gera took second in the shot put and discus, Tapper placed third in the shot put and discus, and DeCaro was sixth in the triple jump. Blahovec competed in the 800 and Lander in the javelin.

The Spartans girls finished with 31 points. Central Buck West was first with 53 points.

Norris, a Southern Illinois commit, came into states with the best throw of more than 190 feet. His PR of 195-10 came on his final throw.

“After finishing second in the shot put, (I) came into discus with a different mindset,” Norris said. “Coach (Dave) Murray told me to relax and have fun. That’s been one of my main things all season. If you relax, you won’t throw so hard.”

Norris peaked at the end of the season and was consistent. He easily won the discus.

He didn’t allow the near-miss in the shot put bother him.

“It was nice to see all your hard work all season home together,” Norris said. “It was a great weekend. I didn’t let the weather bother me.”

Gera and Tapper came into the weekend seeded Nos. 2 and 3 and left that way.

Gera, a Wake Forest commit, was hoping to win gold but settled for silver.

She threw 146-1 in the discus and 44-14 in the shot put.

“I feel like I’m never satisfied,” Gera said. “I haven’t been practicing the best, and it was pretty chilly today. I guess I can’t ask for much more than two second places, so I’m happy. I’m definitely excited to go to nationals, and I’m excited to throw in college and compete there.”

Tapper had a busy morning, competing in the discus and the pole vault. She cleared 10-6 in the pole vault and didn’t place, but she had a PR in the discus of 142-2. She threw 43-2 in the shot put during the afternoon session.

“I’m really pleased with my two third-place finishes,” Tapper said. “I’m really excited for next year. I’m happy that I (threw a personal best) in the discus. The pole vault didn’t go as I wanted, but I can’t do it all sometimes.”

DeCaro was pleased with her performance in the triple jump. She leaped 34-7, a new PR by an inch.

“I was shooting for 38 feet, but I scratched two jumps,” DeCaro said. “It was awesome to break my record. I’m excited for next year. I want to break the school record.”

The school record is 38-812 set by Gabby Holmberg.

Hempfield’s Tanner Barnhart placed sixth in the pole vault. He cleared 14-6.

Franklin Regional senior Rayna Todera was pleased with her performance. She placed third in the triple jump with a jump of 38-12.

Greensburg Salem senior Quintin Gatons ended his high school career with a seventh-place finish in the 1,600.

Norwin sophomore Nataia Robertson-Dutrieuill placed eighth in the long jump, and Belle Vernon senior Dane Anden tied for seventh in the high jump.

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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