Shaler Area’s Mbalo dominates triple jump again

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Thursday, May 23, 2019 | 9:02 PM


Cam Mbalo was nervous but wanted to approach the WPIAL Class AAA championship meet at Slippery Rock the same way as every other meet.

Mbalo, who was the top seed, had to wait until the end of the day before the triple jump started. The Shaler Area junior didn’t let the expectations interfere with his confidence.

He won the WPIAL with a jump of 47 feet, 10 inches, falling a little short of setting the WPIAL record of 48-2. The WPIAL record was set in 1969 by New Castle’s Ulysses Walker.

“I look at every competition the same way,” Mbalo said. “Anyone can put out a good mark. Based on how I feel that day, I always want to put on my best performance to win the meet.”

Mbalo will be seeded third at the PIAA Class AAA meet. Results from the meet were too late for this edition.

Shaler coach Shawn Ryan had clear goals for Mbalo at the meet. Entering WPIALs, Mbalo’s best jump was three feet better than the person seeded second. Baldwin’s Nasser Pen finished second with a jump of 45-0½.

“I think the expectations were as clear as they could be,” Ryan said. “We had a clear understanding of what the competition was like. His mental preparation was the biggest thing. He had to wait around all day. He’s been working all season for this and had good mental preparation.”

Mbalo, who has made a nearly 10-foot improvement since last year, will have plenty more opportunities to showcase what he’s learned. In addition to the state championships, Mbalo will compete in the New Balance Nationals on June 13.

“I’m looking forward to competing on a high level and show everyone what I can do,” Mbalo said. “Last year, I went to states with my former teammate John Franklin. I felt like if I increased my work ethic I could qualify for states and break the school record.”

Mbalo was the only Shaler athlete to qualify for states. Danielle Eshelman had the second-best finish, placing sixth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5 minutes, 17.84 seconds. Lydia Valentine finished 11th in the discus (105-8) and 14th in the shot put (34-7). Dalton Kalbaugh finished 12th in the 3,200.

Ryan said Mbalo has high hopes for states. Mbalo has followed the progress of State College’s Lance Hamilton and Harrisburg’s Jakari Lomax all season.

“Going in with the three seed, the achievable mark is 48-6,” Ryan said. “That’s the money jump if he wants to put it out there. Having a 48-foot jump would put the pressure on.”

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