CONCORD >> In any other year, Nina Gambacorta would compete in the girls Class AAA shot put at the PIAA Track & Field Championships Friday, jump in a car and head back home to attend her senior prom. After the prom, she would head back to Shippensburg to take part in the Class AAA discus.
Many Garnet Valley athletes have pulled off that crazy stunt over the years. It’s what happens when your school has its senior prom on state track weekend.
Gambacorta, though, will have to miss her senior prom thanks to a change in the schedule. The discus used to start at 12:30 Saturday afternoon. This year, though, the event has been moved up to 9 a.m.
“I’d have to leave at like 3 o’clock in the morning to be there on time,”Gambacorta said. “The post-prom doesn’t get over until five so I can’t do it. I wouldn’t have any time to rest.”
While missing the prom is disappointing, the All-Delco thrower hopes to make up for it with a couple of state medals, which is a distinct possibility. She’s seeded sixth in both events after winning the discus and finishing second in the shot put at the District One Championships.
“Being seeded sixth is good,” Gambacorta said. “I feel that I can move up. “I didn’t have my best performances at districts so I feel like I can do better.”
This is Gambacorta’s second straight trip to the PIAA Championships as a competitor, but her third overall. Head coach Terry Lillicrap took Gambacorta to Shippensburg with the team as a sophomore in 2014 to get a feel for the state championship meet.
It was a beneficial experience. The following year Gambacorta qualified for the state meet in both events and earned an eighth-place medal in the shot put and was 12th in the discus.
“I was more at ease last year because I knew what to expect,” Gambacorta said. “I watched everyone compete so I knew how things were going to flow. And I’m definitely more prepared this year. I know what I have to do to medal.”
To have the chance to medal in both events, Gambacorta has to miss her senior prom.
“I’m disappointed that I’m going to miss the prom, but I’ve put in a lot of work for this opportunity and I hope to make the best of it.”
Two of the races to watch on the girls side are the 800 and the 4 x 400.
The top three finishers in the 800 are back and they put on a show last year. Maddie Villalba edged Penn Wood’s Agnes Mansaray and Cardinal O’Hara’s Olivia Arizin to win her second straight state title. Mansaray and Arizin both broke the county record that day. Arizin has since gone on to break Mansaray’s time of 2:09.70 that day. Arizin is the No. 1 seed. Villalba is seeded second and Mansaray third.
Meanwhile, Penn Wood has a shot to break the state meet record of 3:46.20 set by Abington in 2011. Janae Pitt, Mansaray, Elicia Moore and Terri Turner set the county mark (3:46.76) at the Penn Relays and ran 3:46.86 last week to win the District One Class AAA championship. It won’t be easy, though. Pitt is entered in the 300 hurdles.
Mansaray is in the 800 and Turner is in the 400. All three are expected to reach the finals in those respective events which are three of the last four events before the 4 x 400 final.