SHIPPENSBURG — Academy Park’s Janese Lynch and Garnet Valley’s Nina Gambacorta were on the awards stand together Friday at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium, which was only appropriate.
As friends, training partners and two of the top shot-putters in the state, it would have been odd to see one receive an award without the other.
And so it was as Lynch and Gambacorta claimed Delco’s first medals at the PIAA Track & Field Championships with a third- and eighth-place finish, respectively, in the girls Class AAA shot put.
The duo will be at it again Saturday in the discus, in which Lynch is the sixth seed.
Lynch, a sophomore, tied the second-best effort of her career (41 feet, 3 ¾ inches) to take home the bronze. That’s the same distance she had last week when she finished second to Gambacorta at the District One Championships.
Gambacorta’s top heave was 39-3 ¼, not the put she wanted, but at least she did not go home empty-handed.
The best part, though, was that they were able to share in each other’s moment of joy.
“It helps a lot to have someone there that you know,’ Lynch said.
“It eases the nervousness,’ Gambacorta said.
The pair became friends when both starting training with former Glen Mills coach Barry Swanson, who is recognized as one of the top throws coaches in the area. Both have been training three times a week with Swanson for a year and the difference is measurable.
As a freshman at Neumann-Goretti last season, Lynch finish seventh in the Class AA shot put with a throw of 38-8. Gambacorta did not qualify for the PIAA Championships as a sophomore. A year later they’re medal winners and 40-plus foot shot putters.
“We wouldn’t be here without Barry,’ Lynch said.
“He’s made all the difference,’ Gambacorta added.
Both went to Swanson to improve. Little did they realize a friendship would develop, but that’s what happens when you spend every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday working out together. Competing against one another, though, is another matter altogether.
“You want to beat her, but she’s still your friend,’ Lynch said.
And friends are there for each other.
“We’ll give each other advice all the time and we’re always cheering each other on,’ Lynch said.