Liz Tapper wins PIAA shot put gold to join list of Hempfield state champs

Friday, May 27, 2022 | 7:08 PM

SHIPPENSBURG – On the wall in the lobby of the Hempfield field house are pictures of all the school’s PIAA champions.

Hempfield athletic director Brandon Rapp now has to find room for Liz Tapper.

The junior became the ninth thrower in school history to win a PIAA title when she captured the Class 3A shot put Friday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium.

She joins Rachel Serafin, Samantha Fetter, Kim Kanala, Beth Obruba, Dan Norris, Max Adams, Weston Banks and Hayden Fox on the wall

On Saturday, she will try to become the fourth thrower to win multiple times, joining Serafin (four-time champion), Adams (two-time winner) and Banks (two-time winner).

Because Tapper was competing in two events at the same time, she hit her best throw, 46 feet, 4.25 inches, in the preliminary round. Her first mark was a 44-4, and then she nailed her second throw.

“I was so fired up after the first two throws that I got too jacked up,” Tapper said. “This was unreal. To be in a position to where McKenna (Orie) and Bella (Gera) are, two people I look up to the most, is unreal and the feeling is absolutely amazing to know all your hard work paid off.”

Tapper received a congratulatory call from Orie after the event.

Hempfield throwing coach Dave Murray said Tapper is a very talented athlete who works ridiculously hard.

“People don’t know what it takes to be a champion,” Murray said. “She would lift after volleyball or any free time she had.”

Murray said he and Tapper mutually agreed to pass on her throw in the finals to allow her to focus on the pole vault.

“If someone got close to her in the finals, we would have called her back,” Murray said. “She had a great week at practice and she might have broken her own record. She competed in both events for the team.”

Tapper didn’t do as well as she planned in the pole vault. She cleared 11 feet and finished 10th with sophomore teammate Grace Iwig.

“It definitely wasn’t my best, but I came here and got the job done,” Tapper said. “I came up a little short in the pole vault. Part was because they we moved from outside to inside.”

Heavy rains moved the pole vault indoor and it delayed the meet for more than two hours.

“I’m definitely really excited about Saturday,” Tapper said. “I love this so much and I think the weather is going to be OK. Hopefully I can get another state title underneath my belt. That would be absolutely amazing.”

Higgins takes 2nd

Ligonier Valley’s Miles Higgins threw a personal best 200 feet, 11 inches and finished second in the Class 2A javelin to Wyoming Area junior Drew Mruk, who won with a throw of 211-9.

Higgins also had two other throws of more than 194 feet (194-4 and 196-4).

“It was a super good day,” Higgins said. “I threw my best and I got beat. Drew is a super athlete and I knew it would be tough to beat him.

“We were actually in a league of our own. No one really challenged us.”

The best throw for Higgins, a North Carolina-Wilmington recruit, was his second toss in the finals.

Brewer earns medal

Greensburg Central Catholic senior Corinn Brewer tied for sixth in the Class 2A high jump. She cleared 5 feet.

The Notre Dame recruit said she was hoping to go higher, but sore shins prevented her from practicing. She said she’s looking forward to the pole vault Saturday.

She also qualified for the finals in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, so she’s faced with a busy day.

She is seeded sixth in both races after running a 15.87 in the 100 hurdles and 46.27 in the 300 hurdles.

Jacobs, Zelmore place

Southmoreland senior Alexis Jacobs placed fifth in the Class 2A discus with a throw of 118-0 and Mt. Pleasant junior Tiffany Zelmore placed sixth in the Class 2A discus with a throw of 111-9.

Jacobs said she was pleased to earn a medal after failing to her junior season.

“I didn’t throw my best, but it was good enough to get a medal,” said Jacobs, who will be attending Seton Hill. “I’m really pleased that I made the finals.”

Zelmore said she didn’t expect to be in the finals, so placing sixth made her day.

“I was able to get a personal record,” Zelmore said. “Now I’m looking forward to next year.”

Reaching the finals

Greensburg Central Catholic freshman Eva Denis qualified for the 100 finals in girls Class 2A. She ran a 12.79 and is seeded sixth.

The Greensburg Central Catholic 400-meter relay team of Denis, Sasha Hoffman, Sara Felder and Ella Zambruno also reached the finals and is seeded sixth after finishing in 50.50.

The Norwin girls’ 1,600-meter relay team of Bernadette Zukina, Alexandra Walton, Bella Brozeski and Layla Robertson ran a 3:57.69 to qualify for the finals as a seventh seed.

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

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