By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
SHIPPENSBURG – District 2’s lofty reputation in the javelin will be on display again Saturday at Shippensburg University.
The district not only has the top seed in both the boys and girls javelin at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 3A Track and Field Championships in Shippensburg, but also has the second seed in girls.
During Friday’s Class 2A championships, Thomas Dickinson from Scranton Prep finished second in the event.
Tunkhannock’s Matthew Prebola, Berwick’s Renny Murphy and Hazleton Area’s Abbey Hengst lead the District 2 competitors into Saturday’s state championships.
Prebola’s District 2 record throw of 222-2 made him the first seed by 12-11.
That was just part of the story. All six of his throws were clearly longer than every other competitor in the state.
It was a performance that made an impact well beyond North Pocono, the site of the district meet.
Prebola’s winning throw goes down as the seventh longest in Pennsylvania history in any high school competition. And, it earned him one of nine nominees for milesplit.com’s National Boys Performer of the Week for May 17-23 (learn more at: https://www.milesplit.com/articles/297851/national-boys-performer-of-the-week-517-523).
After also winning District 2 with the best girls throw in the state, Murphy marveled at Prebola’s performance.
“It’s insane,” Murphy said. “He’s like 40 feet farther than everybody else and he’s just so smooth.
“It’s awesome to watch him throw.”
Like Prebola, Murphy took the lead on the first attempt and held it throughout, but she also tacked on an extra six feet at the end with a final throw of a personal-best 145-7, beating out Hengst’s 137-0.
“I watch his technique and we talk when we see each other at states and invitationals,” Murphy said of Prebola. “Our parents are friends.”
The extra time in high-level invitationals is just part of the equation for both.
Prebola, a junior, is managing to build toward one of the best careers in state history even though it has been abbreviated by an entire missed season because of the pandemic. He has ambitiously found ways to make up for what could have been lost time.
“Freshman year, I had a good season,” said Prebola, who first began throwing the javelin competitively in eighth grade after trying it a little in seventh grade. “Then, when my sophomore year got canceled because of COVID, I really took that as an opportunity to train a lot. All this that’s going on right now really started last March and April.
“I just trained up to this, doing upper-body lifts, lower-body and a lot of core, medicine-ball, band work. Then, specifically throughout the winter, I really focused on box jumps to get my legs stronger.”
When the weather warmed up, Prebola turned to running to continue building his leg strength. He adding that to improvising chances to work on technique.
“I have a barn with a big carpet and a little runway of about 30 feet, so in the winter, I do throws into that,” said Prebola, who uses balls for those throws, but is able to refine his footwork.
Prebola has carried all that preparation with him into Saturday’s pursuit of a state championship.