Westmoreland County throwers looking for gold

Monday, May 16, 2022 | 9:31 PM

Other than competing in the PIAA track and field championships, Wednesday is the day many WPIAL runners, throwers and jumpers have had circled all season.

The WPIAL Class 3A and 2A championships will take place at Slippery Rock University beginning at 11 a.m.

There athletes will try to perform at their highest level trying to qualify for a trip to Shippensburg University May 27 and 28.

The top four finishers in Class 3A and top five in Class 2A automatically earn a trip. Any other athlete who finishes on top can qualify for the state meet if they meet state qualifying standards.

Hempfield junior Liz Tapper watched teammate Isabella Gera capture the shot put and discus titles in 2021. Now Tapper is a heavy favorite to claim those two titles this season.

Tapper has come on to be one of the elite throwers in the state. She has thrown 163 feet, 9 inches in the discus but has reached the 170s in practice. Her best throw in the shot put is 48-½. She also has cleared 12-2 in the pole vault.

“I watched Bella win last year. Now it’s my time,” said Tapper, who finished second in both events last season. “To take her place is awesome. I’ve had a good season, and I’ve surpassed my goals.”

Her coach, Dave Murray, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Tapper broke that state record this season.

His son Peyton has the best throw in the WPIAL in the discus, 164-1. Dan Sierk, Murray’s teammate, has thrown 155-9 in the discus and 52-4 1.2 in the shot, which is also second best in the WPIAL.

The top three javelin throwers are from Westmoreland County. Ligonier Valley senior Miles Higgins, the returning Class 2A champion, has thrown 198-6.

Norwin senior Aaron Schmook has the top throw in Class 3A with a throw of 198-3, and teammate Cody Scherle has thrown 178-2.

“I’ve prepared myself well for the season,” Higgins said. “I’m more confident.”

Schmook is looking for redemption after failing to compete at a high level. He was seeded No. 1 as a junior and failed to reach the top eight.

“I definitely learned from my mistakes last year,” Schmook said. “My first two throws were out of sector, and my third was only 140. I’ll be more focused.”

Another local athlete hoping to make his mark is Latrobe senior hurdler Brennan Campbell. He had the second-fastest time in the 110-meter hurdles and fourth-best time in the 300 hurdles.

“I’ve been training hard,” Campbell said. “I’m looking forward to the meet. Hopefully, I’ll be able to reach the top.”

Greensburg Central Catholic senior Corinn Brewer is scheduled to have a busy day. The Notre Dame recruit is seeded No. 1 in the Class 2A pole vault, No. 2 in the 100 hurdles, fourth in the 300 hurdles and fourth in the high jump.

Others to watch include:

2A girls: Brownsville junior Jolena Quarzo (1,600 and 3,200), Shenango senior Emma Callahan (shot put and discus).

3A girls: Upper St. Clair junior Dani Prunzik (100 and 200), Moon senior Mia Cochran (1,600 and 3,200), Butler senior Emma Lehman (300 hurdles), South Fayette senior Melana Schumaker (pole vault and long jump) and New Castle senior Maria Owens (long jump and triple jump).

2A boys: South Allegheny senior Eric Anderson (110 hurdles), New Catholic senior Trevor Paschall (100, 200 and 400), South Side senior Dustin Mackall (high jump), Riverside senior Teddy McHale (pole vault) and Shenango senior Will Patton (discus).

3A boys: Butler senior Guinness Brown (100 and 200), Moon sophomore Jacob Puhalla (800), Butler senior C.J. Singleton (3,200) and North Allegheny senior Dwayne Taylor (long jump).

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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