SCRANTON – Only a tiebreaker separated Abby Norwillo from a state championship in her specialty, the pole vault, a year ago as a junior.
For her senior year, Norwillo showed she is more than a specialist.
While maintaining her status as one of the national leaders among girls high school pole vaulters, the University of Pennsylvania recruit went from sometimes competing in a second event to routinely filling the maximum four while to help Pittston Area come within a win of repeating its Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 girls track and field title.
Norwillo was at it again during Monday’s District 2 Class 3A Track and Field Championships, capturing an elusive first district title in the pole vault while earning medals in two other events.
Nicole Zambetti earned medals in four events to join forces with Norwillo in leading Pittston Area to fourth place in the 19-team field.
Wyoming Area’s only gold medalist also excelled elsewhere. Shelby Stackhouse won the high jump and took fourth in the 100-meter hurdles for the Lady Warriors, who finished 11th.
Norwillo and Stackhouse went higher than all their opposition to first secure titles, then took a shot at going higher. Norwillo fell short in a district record-setting attempt while Stackhouse’s final tries were at a height that, because of a clerical error, was incorrectly announced as being at a meet record level.
Norwillo already had the tie-breaker advantage over fellow state qualifiers Victoria Atkinson from Scranton Prep and Danielle Heine from Abington Heights when she cleared 12 feet on her third and final attempt to beat them by six inches. She then tried to go higher than the record 12-6 Coughlin’s Madisyn Hawkins had put up while denying Norwillo the 2017 gold medal.
“Saying safe and healthy throughout the meet was one of the basic goals for the day, along with qualifying for states and winning the district championship,” said Norwillo, who studied videos of her attempts on coach Joe Struckus’ phone between attempts to try to make subtle technique adjustments. “The next thing in line would have been the district record … but at the end of the day, I can’t be upset at all.”
Before turning her attention to the May 25-26 Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships, Norwillo was proud of her efforts in the events she was part of for the last time on the high school level. After placing fifth in the long jump and being part of a sixth-place, 400-meter relay team in her first season of sprinting, Norwillo said there’s always a chance she may add to the highly demanding pole vault training as a Division I college athlete.
“I’ve been picking up a lot more of sprinting workouts, especially before the season started, before going over to do my pole vault workouts,” Norwillo said. “And, I’ve been doing a lot more work in the (long jump) pit. I put in a lot more work than I did my previous two years.
“ … For my last high school year, it was jut about getting as many points for Pittston Area as I can.”
There was a bonus to sprinting on the relay team this season.
“It was my first year on the track,” Norwillo said. “I had such a great team to work with and my little sister (sophomore Olivia) anchors it.
“Being in that relay was a really big part of my senior season. It meant a lot to me, especially coming out of it with a medal.”
The top six in all events earned medals and the top eight scored team points.
Stackhouse used a strong start in the 100 hurdles to finish fourth for the second straight year. She won the high jump with a height of 5-3, moving up from second place a year ago.
“I mainly focused on high jump throughout the season so I’m glad I got to win,” Stackhouse said. “I was real excited about the high jump. I’m been progressively doing well in it.
“I’m real excited with that result.”
Stackhouse made 5-3 on her first try, succeeding in making an adjustment to avoid leaning into the bar too much when attempting higher jumps.
“My second attempt (at 5-5) was so close,” said Stackhouse, who made that height earlier this season for the school record. “I think I just hit it with the back of my calf. I was so close to it.”
Pittston Area had 11 girls earn medals and 13 score points.
Zambetti built the largest collection of medals with a fourth in the 3200 relay, fifth in the 800 and 1600 and a sixth in the 1600 relay.
McLeod was fourth in the 400 and ran on both relays with Zambetti and Mary Silinskie.
Freshman Giavanni Innamoranti earned a silver medal in the 100 hurdles where Andrea Ruby was eighth.
Jenna Smith completed the 1600 relay lineup and was on the 400 relay with Katelyn Wesp and the Norwillo sisters.
Hannah Robbins was the other 3200 relay team member.
Ashton Ashby was fifth in the high jump.
Emma Coles was sixth and Amber Jenkins eighth in the javelin.
Madelyn Resciniti joined Stackhouse to give Wyoming Area a pair of two-event medalists. She was third in the shot put and fifth in the discus.
Valerie Gerchak was fifth in the triple jump.
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