Senior Spotlight: Shaler track star misses chance at another gold medal, WPIAL record

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Saturday, May 9, 2020 | 8:00 AM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Shaler senior Cam Mbalo will leave high school with a couple unanswered questions. Would he have won a Class AAA PIAA gold medal in the triple jump? Would he have the broken the oldest WPIAL record in the same event?

Mbalo, one of numerous WPIAL track stars headed to Duquesne, was coming off winning the indoor state triple jump by leaping 48 feet, 1½ inches.

The WPIAL record of 48-2 was set in 1969 by New Castle’s Ulysses “Butch” Walker.

“Coming off the indoor season, we were looking for a big jump from Cam,” Shaler coach Shawn Ryan said. “He was on track and right we wanted him to be. He really wanted the WPIAL record, and he had his sights on another state title.”

When Ryan became coach three years ago, he saw that Mbalo had a lot of potential.

“Cam is a quiet kid and very humble,” Ryan said. “He’s progressed nicely since his freshman season. I can see him reaching 50 feet in college and going to the nationals.”

In winning the state indoor title, Mbalo’s jumps were very consistent. His worst jump of 47-3 was better than any other competitor in the field.

How disappointed were you when you learned the PIAA pulled the plug on your senior season?

It hurt a little. I definitely was disappointed because I felt I was on pace to jump 49 feet and win another state title. I finished third in 2019 during the outdoor season.

What was your most memorable moment in high school?

Winning the state indoor title was my best moment in high school. It was an amazing feeling.

Why were you confident you could win another title and break the WPIAL record?

A: Last year I jumped 47-10. (My coaches and I) saw that I was pretty close in breaking the mark and I was training hard to achieve it.

What makes you a good triple jumper?

I’m pretty tall and lanky and I have good leg strength. I’m able to hold all my phases in a jump.

You aren’t the only WPIAL athlete to pick Duquesne. What’s so appealing about the school?

When I visited, it just felt like family. It’s close to home, and I like the competitive spirit of the team. They also have great coaches.

What will you are majoring in?

Cyber security. It’s what my dad does, and I like working on computers.

Who is your biggest influence?

My mom (Melissa). She’s helped me get all the things I needed to become a state champion.

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be and why?

Olympian Christian Taylor. I want to talk to him about what it takes to become a champion.

What has the coronavirus taught you?

To appreciate all the little things that you took for granted before. I appreciate things more.

What do you miss most during this time?

I’m missing my senior year, which is one of the biggest things in your life. You miss sharing memories with your friends.

What are you doing to keep yourself occupied during the pandemic? Watching a lot of Netflix?

I really don’t watch much TV. I’m listening to Drake, and I’m working out. I do a lot of squat workouts at home.

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

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