Westmoreland High School Athletes of the Week: Hempfield’s Liz Tapper, Yough’s James Shoman
Saturday, May 7, 2022 | 5:53 PM
Sport: Track and field
Claim to fame: Tapper puts on a show when she throws the discus — and often other events, too. She holds the No. 1 distance in the event in the state (164 feet, 4 inches), a mark that also ranks third in the country this spring.
Tapper also is proficient throwing the shot put and also competes in the pole vault. She holds school records in the shot and discus, following in the footsteps of many Hempfield greats.
She won MVP in the field events at the 99th Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships at Latrobe. Her winning marks were 47-1.5 (shot) and 150-7 (discus). The shot mark broke a meet and stadium record.
She was second in the pole vault.
Tapper competed in the pole vault at the recent Penn Relays in Philadelphia, clearing 11 feet, 1 inch.
She believes 170 feet is attainable in the discus.
The state record is held by Greensburg Central Catholic’s Colleen Rosensteel, who threw 168-11 in 1984.
Michigan and Penn State have inquired about Tapper.
When and why did you take up throwing?
I began throwing indoor season of my freshman year. I had pole vaulted three years prior, in middle school, and when I got to the high school, two events were required. I decided to pick up throwing and give it a chance.
Did anyone inspire you or recruit you to throw?
Coach (Dave) Murray gave me the opportunity to throw. He encouraged me along with coach (Melissa) White, my pole vault coach, to push boundaries in both the throws and jumps. Even though it had not been done ever before, they believed in me from the beginning.
What is more attractive to you, a personal record distance or WPIAL and PIAA gold medals?
Definitely a personal record distance. Improvement has always been the goal. As frustrating and slow as this can be, the feeling of getting a new PR will always be the best feeling for any athlete.
So a WPIAL and state title is a bonus?
WPIAL and PIAA titles would be amazing. That definitely has always been dream of mine to be in position where it has become attainable.
Is a Division I scholarship in your future?
I definitely hope so. I have been contacted by schools all over the country and have been given great opportunities for my future.
How far can you throw a football?
I honestly have no clue. I’ve always had a good arm since I was young.
Do you play other sports?
I play volleyball.
Who is your favorite pro athlete?
Valarie Allman. She is the Olympic women’s discus champion.
What is your can’t miss TV show or series?
100%, Grey’s Anatomy.
What concerts will you see this summer?
I’ve never been to a concert and probably won’t attend any this summer. My summer is always jam-packed with my job, training, and volleyball, but this year, I will also have to fit in unofficial visits.
Where is your favorite place to throw?
What is your favorite school subject?
Chemistry and biology. I want to continue and study them in college.
Have you ever tried track events?
No, I have only ever tried pole vault, shot and discus. I only compete in field events making time management very hard, so adding anything more would be too much to handle.
Even just for fun?
I ran and high-jumped in middle school, along with pole vaulting, but decided to switch to throwing when I got to the high school. I never competed in them since.
How do you pass the time on a rainy day at a track invitational?
At most track meets, there never is any time to sit down, especially invitationals. I’m usually running back and forth from the throwing pits to jumping areas. If I ever find any time, I always spend it talking with my teammates.
Any hidden talents?
Not that I know of.
Claim to fame: When Yough (8-6, 7-2) clinched the Section 4-3A title this week by sweeping second-place Southmoreland, the winning pitcher in both games was Shoman. He threw 10 pitches and recorded four outs Monday in relief of Al Novacek as the Cougars walked off with a 3-2 victory. On Tuesday, he started and tossed a two-hitter with seven strikeouts as the Cougars recorded a 7-1 victory. He also plays basketball and football.
Talk about being the winning pitcher in the clinching first-place in the section? I came in after Al Novacek pitched a great game and only (threw) 10 pitches. Then I threw 94 pitches the next day in seven, which helped the team win the section title.
What was working for you during both games? My curveball has really come along. Last year, it was not as good as this year. I’m striking out a lot of people. I’m very good at placing the pitch.
How big was it for you guys to defeat Southmoreland? It was very big for the team, and I was happy I could help the team out and winning the section. But I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates.
What are the team goals now that you clinched a spot in the playoffs? Last year’s playoff loss left a bad taste in our mouths. We weren’t happy with a loss in the first round of the playoffs. We plan on making it a lot further and hopefully winning.
You were on the team a few years ago that made a run in the playoffs. What did you take away from that experience? It really helped me to watch the upper classmen, and I talked to them and it helped me a lot mindset wise.
Even though you’re a junior, do you plan on playing baseball in college? I’d like to. Hopefully, there is an opportunity for me. But right now, I’m working on getting better and being the best that I can be.
When you’re not pitching, you play center field. What is your mindset playing that position? I happen to be the fastest player on the team, and I’m very good at tracking balls down. I can make up a lot of ground. My mindset is to make sure nothing drops and do whatever I can to make that play.
Is it a thrill to gun down a runner trying to take an extra base on you? This year, I haven’t got an outfield assist because I haven’t gotten the opportunity to do it, but years prior I have and it’s a good feeling. I want people to test my arm. I love it. I love challenges.
Yough has a new football coach, your third in four seasons, are you excited about the change? I’m very excited. I think we’re going to do a lot better than we have, and I’m excited about the new coach (Ben Hoffer). He happens to be our JV baseball coach, and he’s a very good guy.
What’s your biggest thrill at Yough? Probably playing baseball and being with this team. We’re having a run like this year’s (run), and it’s probably my biggest thrill so far my high school career.
What’s your favorite pizza in the school district, and what’s your favorite topping? I like a plain cheese pizza from West Newton Pizza House.
What’s your favorite dish that you mom makes? I love her stuff shells.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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