South Xtra: South Park's Stanley has javelin title hopes

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When South Park junior Sarah Stanley walks into the WPIAL Class AAA Track and Field Championships today, not only will her reputation precede her, but so will her brother's.

The expectations are high enough for Stanley, a two-time WPIAL and PIAA qualifier in the javelin. The expectations are only ramped up considering her older brother is former South Park standout, Bill Stanley, a WPIAL champion and more recently a Big Ten champion out of Ohio State.

"I feel a little bit of pressure," Stanley said. "People want me to be just as good as him. I just try to stay really focused on what I need to do."

Stanley has been following in her older brother's footsteps so far. She qualified for WPIALs as a freshman where she placed seventh with a throw of 122 feet, 11 inches. She also qualified for the PIAA championships where she finished 11th.

As a sophomore she continued to show improvement. She improved by four spots at WPIALs, placing third with a throw of 128-8, behind Hempfield's Morgan DeFloria (139-8) and Belle Vernon Area's Jessica Slagus (130-23).

At states, she topped 130 and came away with the second best throw of a WPIAL athlete, finishing fourth with a 133-9 behind Central Bucks West's Cait Mautz (141-2), Danville's Shelby Freeman (137-7) and DeFloria (137-3).

Today at Baldwin High School, Sarah Stanley has her sights set on WPIAL gold and qualifying for the PIAA Championships for a third consecutive year. The PIAA Championships will take place May 23 and 24 at Shippensburg University.

"It is a pretty big deal," Stanley said of WPIALs. "I am ready to go, just trying to stay focused."

She sees her biggest competition coming from DeFloria and Connellsville freshman Madison Wiltrout, who burst onto the scene this year and has already topped 140 feet.

"There are two girls who are pretty close with me," Stanley said. "So far I have beaten them twice and I am ready to do it again this week."

Stanley went up against DeFloria and Wiltrout at invitationals at Baldwin and West Mifflin, and won the competition at Baldwin with a personal best of 138-8.

"I am aiming to get a throw in the 140s and hopefully make it back to state," she said of her goals for WPIALs.

Stanley grew up playing soccer and basketball. She began throwing javelin at 9. In high school she played soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and threw javelin in the spring. She did that for two school years before deciding to focus solely on javelin after her sophomore year.

"It was a tough decision," she said. "I really love soccer and basketball and played very well but once it came to track season I knew it was the right decision and allowed me to work harder."

Stanley now hopes that decision and hard work pays off with WPIAL gold this week.

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