SHIPPENSBURG Rachel Fatherly left the PIAA Championships with a pair of third-place medals in 2011. It was her third consecutive year winning a state medal in the shot put and the third time in three appearances she improved. The Williamsport senior finished seventh as a freshman and sixth as a sophomore before jumping to third.
It still wasn't good enough.
Fatherly returned home that Saturday night with her third-place medals and on Sunday she returned to practice with personal coach Jeff Strohl.
Rachel Fatherly throws the shot put Friday at Shippensburg.
She didn't take a week off to recuperate or a one-day break to think about how far she had come. She went straight to work. She figured that was the best way to accomplish her ultimate goal of winning a PIAA championship, though some questioned her.
Turns out she was right.
Fatherly turned in a best throw of 46 feet, 9 inches on Friday morning and easily won the Class AAA shot put title at Shippensburg University.
"It's like really shocking, but I'm really thankful," said Fatherly, who threw 3 feet farther than a year ago. "It shows hard work really pays off. I got third last year and I wasn't satisfied, so I wanted to come back harder and stronger."
"We were third in two events here last year and on Sunday we were out throwing," said Strohl, who completely re-worked Fatherly's technique following her sophomore year. "How many other kids do you know that are going to put that kind of time and effort in?"
The Williamsport senior reached the finals with a throw of 44-9 in the preliminaries, but showed her strength and mastery of the glide technique in the finals. She reached 45 feet or better in all three attempts, including 46-9 on her fifth attempt overall.
She already had the winning distance before her fifth throw and prior to settling in for her final attempt that reached 45-9 . Following her final throw, Fatherly walked over to the temporary fence and shared hugs with Strohl and Williamsport head track and field coach Vicki Eberhart.
Fatherly, who had a season-best throw of 47-11 earlier in the season, was the lone thrower to surpass the fifth white-chalked line in the sector.
Bensalem junior Tyra Roberts placed second with a throw of 41-10 . No other thrower surpassed 41 feet. Selinsgrove freshman Courtney McCartney placed sixth after reaching 40-0 .
The victory left Fatherly undefeated in the shot put this year and she didn't shy away from competition. She participated in invitationals at Shippensburg, Lock Haven and the prestigious Penn Relays winning them all. She owns school records, district records and invitational records. The one thing that was missing until yesterday was a PIAA Championship.
"I won Penn Relays, I had my PR early in the season and basically this just sums it all up," she said moments after receiving her first PIAA gold medal.
Fatherly's high school career may feel complete after yesterday, but it's not finished. The senior is also the top seed in the Class AAA discus after reaching a personal best 140-9 last week at the District 4 Class AAA Championships in Athens
"I'm just going to focus and give it all I have," said Fatherly.
She always has.