Golden moments: Stauffer wins shot and discus; four others claim District medals

By on May 25, 2016
Cocalico’s Emily Stauffer stands on the medal stand after winning  the District shot put gold Friday. Stauffer added a gold in the discus  on Saturday. Photo by Preston Whitcraft.

Cocalico’s Emily Stauffer stands on the medal stand after winning
the District shot put gold Friday. Stauffer added a gold in the discus
on Saturday. Photo by Preston Whitcraft.

Emily Stauffer’s signature event is the shot put.

The University of Missouri bound star has vaulted herself into one of the nation’s elite in that event. The discus, meanwhile, is still kind of a work in progress for the senior.

This past weekend at the District Three Meet held at Shippensburg University, Stauffer excelled in both events on one of the biggest stages of the season.

Friday in shot, while she didn’t come up with the “50” throw she has been looking for, her best of 45-10¼ was plenty good to not only break her own District Meet mark of 43-7 but win her second-straight gold medal and third overall in that event. Then Saturday in the driving rain, she won her second gold medal of the weekend in the discus, reaching a winning distance of 132-3.

Stauffer qualified for next week’s State Meet in both events. She will be joined by teammates Jamie Zamrin, Abdul Saad and Demetri Whitsett, all of whom also advanced to States.

“It gets challenging to come up with adjectives to describe what Emily can do,” Cocalico Coach Ron Derr said of Stauffer. “She is now a three-time league and district champion as well as all time league and district record holders in shot put. We will probably never have another young lady with that type of ability come through our program. Despite the accomplishments though Emily would really have liked to throw farther and that is a big part of what makes her so special. She wants to do her very best at all times and is never satisfied.”

Case in point, she said she was “out of rhythm” Friday during the shot put. She nailed her winning throw on her first attempt, but couldn’t better it the rest of the way.

She still out-distanced runner-up Jocelyn Ruth of Kutztown by more than three feet (42-4½) but said she was out of whack from the start.

“I can feel it,” she explained. “My warm-ups were OK. I hit a couple 46s, 47s…I was taking it nice and easy. And then, nothing was really clicking (in the competition). I got in my head, which I can’t do. It wasn’t my best performance but I came home with the gold so I’m OK with it. But I just have a lot of work to do to come back next week and hit my goal.”

Saturday in discus, Stauffer uncorked her best throw of 132-3 in the preliminaries, then watched as no one could match it the rest of the way. Madisen King of Red Lion finished second (124-9) while top-seeded Ruth struggled to a third-place finish.

“Last year, I didn’t really work on disc a lot,” Stauffer said. “I kinda worked on getting back in shot since after my surgery and everything. But I’ve put in a lot of work in discus for this whole entire season with Coach Krall and just getting footwork down and all of that. It’s really paid off.”

Given the conditions, Stauffer said she was satisfied with her discus competition Saturday.

“(The circle) was bad,” she said. ‘It was puddles and the hole that’s supposed to let all the water drain down in the middle, it was completely full. Everyone was throwing in it, but it was not fun to throw in. (My throw) was pretty good. I got it out pretty quickly before it started really raining. And I think I threw that on my first throw of trials. So that was kinda my goal of the day, do that and get it out quickly before the weather (soured) because I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

As a team, the Cocalico girls finished in 12th place overall with 22 points. In addition to Stauffer, both distance runner Jamie Zamrin and jumper Stephanie Wahl also came away with medals.

Zamrin’s time of 11:10.45 in the 3,200 not only broke her own school record but was good enough for eighth place overall. After a slow start to her race, Zamrin fought back and closed with a finish that allowed her to earn a return trip to Shippensburg for States.

“Jamie has really had to fight through some of her recent races and when the top runners went out in the 3,200 at such a blistering pace I was so proud so see her keep battling, running her splits and just working her way back through the field,” Derr said. “We thought her best chance of qualifying for states would come in this race and she did a terrific job of not giving up as the main pack pulled away from her early in the race. One at a time a number came back to her and it was really exciting to see her finish with a lot of pop and earn the final medal spot, break her own school record and earn a trip back to Shippensburg this weekend.”

Wahl, a senior, was not so fortunate. Fighting a nagging knee injury for the last three weeks, Wahl did reach a distance of 16-9¼ in the long jump to capture the eighth-place medal. However, she came up just short in moving on to States.

“Stephanie Wahl has been a cornerstone of our team the entire four years she has competed for Cocalico,” Derr said. “She has been a tremendous point getter for the team, a fantastic leader and team captain, and will leave as a record holder in three different events. Steph really wanted to compete one more time in her Cocalico uniform so although she was able to earn a district medal, she was very disappointed to have her career at Cocalico end a week sooner than we all would have preferred. She has been working so hard to come back from her knee injury and for her to have finished second in our league and eighth in our district in long jump despite not being 100 percent is a testimony to the type of competitor she is.”

On the boys’ side, Saad was the top medal earner for the Eagles, claiming a pair of seventh-place medals. Whitsett also finished sixth in the intermediate hurdles as Cocalico finished with seven points and in a tie for 32nd with Penn Manor in the team standings.

Friday afternoon, Saad uncorked his best throw ever in competition in the shot when he led off the finals with a throw of 52-0¼. That throw not only landed him a medal but also clinched a first-ever State berth for the senior.

“To be able to do that here means a whole lot,” Saad said after getting off the medal stand. “I don’t know if I can really put it into words. I’ve been hoping to get to States since my sophomore year, when I missed it by an inch. To finally get in, after all the work, it means a lot. It’s a privilege.”

He said after struggling through the preliminaries, a pep talk from Coach Scott Krall gave him a boost heading into the finals.

“He was just talking to me, trying to get me in the right mindset,” Saad explained. “And the first throw of finals I just popped that sucker out there. I’m so happy I don’t even know what to say.”

Derr was happy to see his senior advance.

“Abdul just had such an incredible season for us and in his typical fashion he once again rose to that needed level and threw a personal best to earn him the right to compete one more week on the biggest stage in the state,” he said. “It took him a few throws to get comfortable and really get going and we had a few anxious moments until we learned for certain that he made the finals. Between sets he took a few practice throws and you could see he was ready to rise to the occasion and he got after it right away.”

Saad’s second medal of the weekend came in the discus on Saturday when he threw 148-11. Unfortunately, he did not move on to States with that throw.

Whitsett did punch his ticket to States in the hurdles. The Eagle junior did so out of the slow heat to finish in a time of 40.45.

“(Abdul and Demetri) just love to compete and always seem to rise to whatever level is needed,” Derr said. “In Demetri’s case to medal and qualify for states coming from a slower hurdle heat is just an amazing accomplishment. In my experience the winner of the slower heat often will earn a medal, but when he was nudged out by Stoner from L-S we thought his chances were not very strong. As the top flight runners started to split apart, we knew he might have a chance and then as the times came up on the board it was thrilling to learn he would place sixth and qualify to compete next week. Hurdle conditions were very rough and while it wasn’t a picture perfect race his will to compete just drove him to a great performance.”

Looking ahead to States, which begin Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. on both days, Derr said he wants his athletes to enjoy the moment.

“One, I hope they treasure the experience,” he said. “It is such a special opportunity to get a chance to compete against the best from our state. I also hope they realize they have earned the right to compete on that stage by their performances so they belong there this weekend. Finally I expect each of them to just compete to the best of their ability in each event and savor the moment they have earned to be in the state spotlight.”

 

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