Jessie Merckle wasn’t expecting much.
Not only was she competing for the first time as a member of the Wake Forest University women’s outdoor track and field team, but she had returned to regularly throwing the javelin only about three weeks prior to last weekend’s Wake Forest Open, the result of shoulder and elbow injuries she suffered while practicing.
Anything, really, would do.
But Merckle, much like she did during a successful athletic career at Fort Cherry, did more than the bare minimum.
So much more.
Merckle threw 50.32 meters – or 165 feet, 1 inch – to win the title, and in the process she set the school record. She missed the venue record by 2.46 meters (a little more than eight feet).
“My first throw was only about 140 (feet), the second about 150-155 (feet),” Merckle said. “The third throw felt pretty good. I saw it land, and I was hoping I would hit 160. It came up 165. I was just so happy.”
Merckle won WPIAL and PIAA gold last year as a senior at Fort Cherry, throwing a record 156-8 at the WPIAL meet, 154-1 at states – below her own lofty standards but still nearly five feet better than the second-place toss.
After having an “off day” at practice and dropping her arm, Merckle said she strained her shoulder. And because of that injury, she later tweaked a nerve in her elbow.
She got an MRI to make sure nothing was wrong – no major problems were detected – and has been rehabbing the injuries twice a day. Merckle said she’s still only 85 or 90 percent.
“(Rehabbing) was almost a good thing; it forced me to work more on technique because I couldn’t throw and allowed me to focus on the little things,” Merckle said.
A few of those little things included how her feet, legs and arms play into her throws. Also her finish.
A standout basketball player at Fort Cherry, Merckle has enjoyed paying so much attention to throwing the javelin at Wake Forest, a luxury she was never afforded at Fort Cherry.
“I feel like that’s a big help,” said Merckle, a three-time WPIAL champion in the javelin. “My coaches at Fort Cherry were great, but there are so many little technique things that I never knew before.”
Trinity volleyball gets a boost
Berton Miller wasn’t ready to stop competing.
Neither was Jared Deep, Corey Hunsberger, Avery King nor a few other Trinity athletes.
So instead of playing pickup basketball, those four, along with wrestler Evan Sherrieb and football player Jacob Pato, decided to try volleyball, even though they had very limited experience with the sport.
“Our season was a big disappointment to us,” Miller said of Trinity’s boys basketball team going 11-11 and missing the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs, despite returning all five starters. “We’re all close to each other. We’re with each other every Saturday night. This is just keeping that streak going.
“We weren’t ready to let it go.”
Volleyball has been a work in progress. Deep’s older sister, Caitlin, played the sport, but the closest any of them came to serious competition was an in-school tournament the group took part in.
“It’s starting to come along,” Miller said. “At first we would get a serve, and the ball would hit the ceiling, then the wall on the way down. Now it’s getting where it should be.”
Trinity’s volleyball team opens its season with an away match at Moon today.
Roundball Classic rosters unveiled
Rosters for the 2013 Roundball Classic at Geneva College have been announced, and several locals will play in the four-game event on Saturday, April 20.
California’s Courtnee McMasters, Monessen’s Mariah Ward, Carmichaels’ Morgan Berardi, Bentworth’s Taylor Pompei and Avella’s Olivia English will play for the West All-Stars in the 2 p.m. East-West game.
Ringgold’s Josie Schmidt will play for the Class AAA All-Starts against those from Class AAAA in the 4 p.m. game.
At 6 p.m., Washington’s Josh Wise, Bentworth’s Cody Levine, and California’s Tanner Huffman and Brian Fisher will play for the Class AA All-Stars against the Class A/City League/District 10 All-Stars.
South Fayette’s Evan Bonnaure will play for the Class AAA All-Stars against Peters Township’s Gabe Pritz and the rest of the Class AAAA All-Stars at 8.