Rotelli’s WPIAL runner-up finish among several meet highlights for Pine-Richland track team

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Sunday, May 30, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Because of her small stature, Gianna Rotelli feels she is overlooked sometimes when she enters track and field events.

After her second-place finish in the javelin at the WPIAL championships, it’s going to be hard for opponents to underestimate her anymore.

Rotelli, a sophomore at Pine-Richland, threw a personal- best 122 feet, 2 inches and finished only 3 inches behind event winner Kylie Grafton of Armstrong. The result qualified her for states.

The PIAA championship was held Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg.

“As soon as Coach (Andrew Borgen) and I heard that 122-2, we both went crazy,” Rotelli said. “In one moment all our work that season paid off.”

The throw was Rotelli’s personal best, topping her previous mark of 118 feet. It was the fourth-longest javelin throw in school history.

She said she tried to temper expectations going into the WPIAL meet and was thrilled with her results.

“Coach Borgen and I knew that if I threw close to my personal best at the time (118), I had a good chance of going to states,” Rotelli said. “At that point, it was just up to me, and I was excited to see what I could accomplish as a sophomore.

“I will say it was a little disappointing to lose by that small of a margin. Kylie Grafton and I had an amazing back-and-forth, and I was honored to lose to her. She’s a great competitor and friend.”

What Rotelli lacks in size she feels she gains with natural ability to throw a javelin. She used to throw turbo javelins in her youth but hadn’t picked up a full javelin until this spring.

“My technique is really strong, though, and that makes up for my small size,” Rotelli said. “I know coach Borgen and I have plans to get back in the gym and put on some muscle in the offseason. But as of right now, my technique is the thing that allowed me to qualify for states. We still have areas to improve on, but that’s what I’m most excited for. I don’t think I’ve reached anywhere close to my potential. Coach Borgen has been so much help this season, and I’m glad I’m with him for two more years.”

Rotelli had plenty of company at states as the Rams had girls qualify in six events. Victor Williams was the lone boys qualifier, finishing fourth in the 800 meters at the WPIAL meet.

The girls 3,200 relay team of Natalie McLean, Elizabeth Hunkele, Meredith Price and Angelina Hunkele won WPIAL gold with a school-record time of 9 minutes, 27.32 seconds.

Ella Rottinghaus qualified in the 400 with a time of 58.22. McLean finished fifth in the 1,600 meters. Price and Angelina Hunkele qualified in the 3,200 meters by finishing second and third, respectively, at WPIALs. Price set a school record at 10:59.1.

Malaikah Kazi earned medals in both hurdles events, finishing fifth in the 100 and eighth in the 300. She missed qualifying for states in the 100 by a tenth of a second.

“The team atmosphere is incredibly supportive, and I’m honored to be a part of it,” Rotelli said. “Our distance runners and sprinters have had a very successful season. Hopefully, in the upcoming years, we will have more girls interested in field events because that’s where we need the points to win a team track championship. Overall, our girls team has a lot of potential in the upcoming seasons.”

Pine-Richland had medalists in three boys events at WPIALs who narrowly missed out on advancing to states.

The 400 relay team of Brad Gelly, Alex Gochis, Nick Hartwick and Eli Jochem missed out on qualifying by a tenth of a second and finished sixth with a time of 43.35 seconds.

Hartwick placed seventh in the 200.

The 800 relay team of Nick King, Tony Nicassio, Josh Imhoff and Williams scored an eighth-place finish.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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