Hempfield’s Tapper wins Class 3A discus for 2nd gold of PIAA track and field championships
Saturday, May 28, 2022 | 4:50 PM
SHIPPENSBURG — Now that Hempfield junior Liz Tapper has two PIAA gold medals on her resume, what’s in store next?
“I want to repeat and add state records in both events,” Liz Tapper said with a grin on her face. “I was so close this year. I have to fix a few flaws. I’m going to lift and practice — nothing unusual.”
After winning the PIAA Class 3A shot put Friday, Tapper added gold in the discus Saturday at the PIAA track and field championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.
Her winning throw was 153 feet. She was hoping to challenge the state marks, but she fouled on three throws in the finals.
Tapper was not pleased with her performance in the finals.
“I’m content with how I competed,” Tapper said. “Last year, it was rough technically. So we really worked hard to iron out things, and my goal was to throw 150 and I threw 153, so I’m satisfied by meeting that goal.”
Her performance surprised even her parents — Rob and Shelby Tapper.
“I never thought she’d be a state champion, especially being a gymnast for all those years,” Rob Tapper said. “I guess it just happened.
“She started pole vaulting, and it was a natural transition from gymnastics. But I never expected her to excel in throwing, ever.”
Shelby Tapper added: “Liz is gifted athletically. She has a great work ethic. She practices a lot. I don’t know if she thinks about being the best, but she works so hard with it and with her coaches.”
Tapper already owns the school record in both events — 164-4 in the discus and 48-1⁄2 in the shot put.
She becomes the fourth Hempfield thrower to win multiple titles, joining Rachel Serafin, Weston Banks and Max Adams. She also is one of nine throwers from Hempfield to win state titles.
Tapper picked up the pole vault in sixth grade. Throwing events came two years later during the covid-19 shutdown when she couldn’t practice the pole vault but could practice throwing.
She wasn’t keen about throwing the shot put at first.
“I started taking it seriously the summer after my freshman year,” Liz Tapper said. “I couldn’t pole vault because of covid, so I could spend more time throwing. I never thought I’d be here. I’m still kind of in shock.”
Tapper said she was inspired watching former Hempfield standouts Mackenna Orie and Bella Gera throw when she was young. And she’s ecstatic to be mentioned with them.
“I followed in the footsteps of Bella and Mackenna, and that’s what I wanted,” Tapper said. “I’m happy. It took a lot to get here, so I’m happy where we are right now.”
Hempfield sophomore Peyton Murray earned a bronze medal for finishing third in the discus. He threw 161-8.
Murray said he was pleased with his performance, even though gold was the goal.
“I’m pretty happy,” Murray said. “Sure, I was going for first, but the guy who won it came out of nowhere. I wasn’t expecting that, and it got in my head.
“I was a little off. I think I should have done better. I’m OK with it.”
Greensburg Central Catholic senior Corinn Brewer ended her high school career by earning four medals in Class 2A.
But the Notre Dame commit, who has earned 10 PIAA medals in track and field, was not pleased with her day. Things went south when she didn’t clear 11-6 in the pole vault.
“I should have won that,” Brewer said. “I felt I should have done better. I was a lot slower (Saturday).”
Brewer has been bothered by injuries to her shins. It prevented her from practicing the high jump and pole vault.
She placed sixth in the high jump (5-0) on Friday and then came back Saturday to finish fourth in the pole vault (11-0), seventh in the 100 hurdles (15.96) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (47.98).
Other Westmoreland athletes who earned medals were: Greensburg Central Catholic freshman Eva Denis (seventh in the Class 2A 100), Greensburg Central Catholic junior Lizzie Dlugos (sixth in the shot put), Southmoreland senior Alexis Jacobs earned a second state medal by placing sixth in the shot put, Norwin junior Ashley Laukus tied for eighth in the Class 3A high jump and Norwin senior Aaron Schmook placed eighth in the javelin.
Dlugos, who is coming off knee surgery, said she was pleased to earn a medal at states.
“I’m very excited,” Dlugos said. “I didn’t throw my best, but I’m excited to return as a senior.”
Jacobs said her goals were met by placing in two events.
“I’m satisfied because I didn’t place here as a junior,” Jacobs said.
Laukus said she didn’t know what to expect, but earning a medal was big.
“I didn’t reach my personal best of 5-4 but did medal,” Laukus said. “Now I have something to shoot for.”
Schmook was pleased to earn a medal. His best throw was 171-11.
The Norwin girls 1,600-meter relay team of Bernadette Zukina, Alexandra Walton, Bella Brozeski and Layla Robertson placed seventh in a time of 3 minutes, 59.49 seconds.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .