All-Delco Girls Track: Lynch setting her sights high as a thrower

SHARON HILL — If USA Track & Field ever needs a spokesperson for the field portion of the sport, which often gets overlooked, Academy Park’s Janese Lynch would be a perfect candidate.

She talks up the throwers every chance she gets.

“Everyone knows the runners, but no one knows the throwers,’ the 16-year-old sophomore said. “I like telling people who don’t know about (Penncrest All-Delco) Karen Shump about Karen Shump. I tell people all the time that running is cool, but you need to look at the field events, too. My friends are all about (sprinters) Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross and I’m like, ‘ No, you need to come check out the throwers.’

Yes, you do. Throwers are cool, too.

Shump, for the uninitiated, was a four-time Daily Times Athlete of the Year during her tremendous career at Penncrest, and one of the latest inductees into the Delaware County Athletes Hall of Fame. Shump holds the county record in both the shot put (49 feet, ¾ inch) and discus (154-0).

Lynch aspires to be better than Shump and is reminded of that fact every time she trains at Barry Swanson’s Train Hard Win Big center in Wilmington, Del.

“Barry has her records and pictures of her all over the gym,’ Lynch said. “That’s my motivation. I want to break all of her records.’

Lynch already has at least one throw in the discus that is a little more than two feet farther than Shump threw as a sophomore (135-3 to 133). Lynch is not far behind in the shot (47-6 for Shump, 43-3 ½ for Lynch).

The Sharon Hill native has something else in common with Shump. Lynch also was named Athlete of the Year in girls track by the Daily Times as a sophomore.

Lynch earned the honor by winning both the shot put and discus at the Delco Championships, taking second in both events in the Class AAA portion of the District One Championships and finishing third in the Class AAA shot put at the PIAA Track & Field Championships.

Joining Lynch on the All-Delco team, which was selected by the Daily Times sports staff following consultation with county coaches are Katie Arbogast, Briana Artis and Alicia Collier from Penncrest; Olivia Arizin and Grace Mancini of Cardinal O’Hara; Strath Haven’s Semaje Harper and Maia Mesyngier; Val McLaughlin of Rdley; Upper Darby’s Joanne Mason; Marin Bloise of Agnes Irwin; Mikayla Schneider from Notre Dame; Agnes Mansaray of Penn Wood; Nina Gambacorta from Garnet Valley and Carly Peters of Archbishop Carroll.

Arbogast, Collier and Mancini are repeat selections. Lynch and Arizin are the only sophomores on the first team. Collier, Mancini, Mansaray, Schneider and Gambacorta are juniors. The rest are seniors.

Lynch is the first athlete from Academy Park to receive Athlete of the Year honors in track and the first athlete from the Del Val League to win the county’s top individual honor for girls since Chester’s Rayiana Johnson in 2009. She’s also the first thrower since, you guessed it, Shump.

Lynch, though, did not start out as a thrower. Like most, she began as a runner. The throwing part came a little bit later, when she was about 8- or 9-years old.

“I started to get slower,’ Lynch said. “You can’t be slow on a relay.’

Lincoln Townsend, head coach of her club team, the Delco Stallions, suggested that Lych give the field events a try, which she did. Her first choice was the long jump, but, as she said, that didn’t work out. Next up was the shot put and Lynch advanced to the AAU nationals.

Just like that, a thrower was born.

“I love it,’ she said.

Being a dancer helped. Lynch trained in jazz, tap, ballet and lyrical dance before she decided to give it up to concentrate on her athletic career. There is no question that her training as a dancer has helped her has a thrower. You can see it in her footwork.

And if there is one dance step that has helped her progress as a thrower, it’s the pivot turn.

“It helps me in the middle of the throw, when you’re turning in and getting ready to throw,’ Lynch said. “The pivot helps you transfer your weight.’

It is that explosion of power that has helped Lynch develop into one of the top throwers in the state. She ranks fifth in the shot put and seventh in the discus, according to, and is the only 10th-grader in the top 10 in the shot put. Lynch, though, isn’t the only thrower from Delco in the top 10 in the shot put. Gambacorta, her good friend and training partner, is ranked seventh in the state in the shot.

The pair has something else in common: Both are left-handed.

“We talk about that all the time,’ Lynch said. “Other than Nina, I don’t know any others who are left-handed. All the other throwers where we train are right handed.’

Their friendship has developed into a rivalry, albeit a friendly one.

“That’s my girl,’ Lynch said. “We’re always going at it.’

Lynch got the upper hand at the Delco Championship. Gambacorta gained a matter of revenge when she edged Lynch for the District One Class AAA shot put title. The rivalry will continue this weekend at the New Balance Nationals in at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C.

They’ll probably sit side-by-side, as usual, and talk shop, which is also par for the course. It’s a unique sorority, one Lynch talks up every chance she gets.

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