School discus record in hand, Kiski Area’s Jean Starr aims for bigger goals

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Thursday, April 25, 2019 | 6:43 PM


The Kiski Area girls high school discus record had a target, figuratively speaking, on its back coming into this season.

Senior Jean Starr wanted to put more than two decades of attempts by Cavaliers throwers to rest and establish herself as the record holder. At the Knoch Relays earlier this month, Starr launched the throw she was looking for.

She unleashed the discus 125 feet, 10 inches, more than a foot farther than the previous record of 124-5 achieved by Suzanna Klinginsmith at the 1998 WPIAL Class AAA championships.

“I broke the eighth-grade middle school discus record, and that was one of the biggest sports moments I had growing up,” Starr said. “I knew coming into my freshman season that the high school discus record was one of my main goals. Everyone wants to leave their mark in some form.

“I had gotten a little discouraged my sophomore year and last year because my marks weren’t where I wanted them to be. But coming into the season, I started in the one-teens. Then I hit it at Knoch, and I was so excited.”

The school discus record is only one of the numerous goals the Penn State commit set for herself coming into the outdoor track and field season.

Starr said she has big plans for the upcoming WPIAL championships and also hopes to qualify for the PIAA meet in Shippensburg at the end of May.

“It’s great to be able to compete against the top throwers every day,” Starr said. “There’s some great throwers in the WPIAL. It will be fun to see how I measure up.”

Motivation was high for Starr after she fell short of making states last year. Her top finish at WPIALs was a 12th in the shot put (34-1).

She has improved more than 5 feet from that throw, hitting a personal-best 39-6½ in winning the event at last week’s Butler Invitational. Starr also won the discus (118-3).

“The performances at Butler made me even hungrier for more,” Starr said. “I finished seventh in the discus last year and didn’t even place in the shot. So to jump up to first place in both was an amazing feeling.”

Starr hopes to go after more Saturday as she competes with her Cavaliers teammates and athletes from Valley and Burrell at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships at Latrobe Memorial Stadium.

Hempfield senior McKenna Orie is the defending WCCA champion in the girls shot and discus, and she owns the top WPIAL Class AAA throws in both (148-7 in the discus and 46-7½ in the shot) this season.

“I am looking forward to getting another shot at McKenna,” Starr said. “She is one of my good friends. She really brings out the best in me. It should be fun.”

Starr earned three medals at last year’s WCCA meet. She is ranked third in the shot and discus on the most recent WPIAL Class AAA performance lists released Monday.

“Saturday will be another good measuring stick for Jean,” Kiski Area throwing coach Scott Newell said. “There’s not only the best throwers in the county (at the WCCA meet) but some of the best in all of the WPIAL. McKenna is one of the best in the state. (Jean) always wants to measure her success with those top girls and try to close the gap a little bit.

“Jean has gotten stronger as the season has progressed, and that began in the offseason in the weight room. She’s worked with several college throwing coaches, and all of her hard work and effort has paid off.”

Saturday’s WCCA meet, which features athletes from 18 schools, begins with field events at 9:30 a.m. followed by track events at 10:15.

Cavaliers senior Kierra Shreffler is the defending champion in the girls 1,600-meter run, and she added a second in the 3,200.

The three area teams brought home a plethora of medals from last year’s WCCA meet, and the Burrell girls had 14 of them, led by a third-place finish from Kaylen Sharrow in the 300 hurdles.

Valley junior DeAisha James hopes for more good fortune Saturday. Last year, she was third in the long jump and seventh in the 100.

The Norwin girls and Hempfield boys are the defending team champions. The Kiski Area boys won four WCCA titles from 2003-08.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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