Shaler Area’s Mbalo seeks to challenge himself, improve high jump
Thursday, June 20, 2019 | 7:50 PM
Finding a way atop the medal stand in the WPIAL Class AAA triple jump wasn’t the end of the story for Shaler Area’s Cam Mbalo.
A junior season full of strong performances earned Mbalo a full schedule for the summer. When Mbalo went to North Carolina A&T on June 15, he had an opportunity to compete in a field of the 55 best high school triple jumpers at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.
It was an opportunity for a new challenge.
“For sure, after I won WPIALs I asked myself, ‘Is that all you can do?’ ” said Mbalo, who placed third at the PIAA championships. “This was a good opportunity to see where I can improve. I want to get back in the gym and work toward next year.”
Mbalo placed 24th at nationals with his best distance being 47 feet, 5 inches. Justin Forde of Brien McMahon, Conn., won the event with a leap of 51-6½. Lance Hamilton of St. Joseph’s Catholic placed second with a jump of 51-0½.
Mbalo felt he could have done better. Things didn’t start well.
“It was rocky at first,” Mbalo said. “I didn’t feel in rhythm until my last jump.”
Titans track coach Shawn Ryan was happy with the experience Mbalo gained.
“I think he realized he’s able to compete against kids from all over the country,” Ryan said. “It’s great motivation for his senior season.”
One of the key components of Mbalo’s senior season will be adding skills to his repertoire.
Though he’s strong in the long and triple jump, Mbalo hasn’t had much experience with the high jump.
With a goal of heading to Division I in track, it will be a focal point.
Over the summer, Mbalo is working with trainers to help gain flexibility in his back.
“My back doesn’t bend well,” Mbalo said. “I’m working with a trainer to see if I can get my back fixed.”
Ryan believes Mbalo has the attitude to pick up another event.
The Shaler coaching staff plans to help make it happen.
“His long jump is where it needs to be,” Ryan said. “College coaches are looking for athletes to do multiple events. Cam’s long jump and triple jump people would be satisfied with. It’s always good to have a third event.”