Bensalem’s Yobani Moreno and William Tennent’s Emma Brodhag are featured in this week’s track and field notebook.
By DENNY DYROFF
Bensalem’s Yobani Moreno is a big guy with big ambitions.
The Owls’ senior, who stands 6-foot, 2.5 inches and weighs 225 pounds, has his sights set on being the 2018 state champion in shot put.
Currently, Moreno is ranked Number One in the state in shot put.
He achieved that distinction on March 31when he unfurled a heave of 56-0 to win the gold medal and set the meet record at the Third Annual Jim Kelly Invitational at Hatboro Horsham High School.
Moreno also knows that distances logged throughout the regular high school track-and-field season have little bearing on who becomes the state champion.
It’s all about who posts the best throw on March 25 at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium – the site of the 2018 PIAA Track and Field Championships.
“Yobani went to states last year as a junior,” said Bensalem coach Mary Ellen Malloy. “He didn’t have a good meet. It was his first time to go to states. You can tell everybody what states is like but you have to go there to see it. And, he was throwing against Jordan Geist.”
Geist, from Knoch High, captured the gold medal with a super impressive throw of 71-4.5 – far ahead of North Pocono’s Matt Slagus, who was a distant runner-up at 59-8.5. Moreno placed 18th at 48-10.
“I didn’t do that well,” said Moreno. “I just wasn’t confident at that met because the week of training before the meet was bad. When I competed at the state meet, I was off. It was the worst possible.
“I’m a much more positive person now – a lot more optimistic. I have no negative thoughts and I train hard.”
Moreno’s whole season points to the meet on May 25. Having the state’s best throw is nice – but it’s only April.
“Yobani is laser-focused for states,” said Malloy. “He’s getting stronger from year to year. He’s obviously worked out a lot more. This is just the culmination of the last three years – all the work he’s put in.”
Moreno has continually improved throughout his high school career. At the Kelly Invitational a few weeks ago, he also won the gold medal in discus at 153-5.
“My p.r. (personal record) is 56-8, which I threw indoors at this year’s Meet of Champions,” said Moreno. “My p.r. in discus is 166-10.
“In my freshman year, my season’s best was 45-6 in shot pout and 107 in disc. As a sophomore, it was 48 and 141, which won the league for the first time.
Over that summer, I trained with a friend who is a Division I college thrower – Hani Traboulsi from the University of New Hampshire.
“Last year when I was a junior, my best in shot was 53-9, which was a school record at the time, and 163-7 in disc. One of the biggest helps was a new training coach – Frank Squibb. I made huge jump with technique.”
Moreno, who also played basketball at school when he was younger, has been doing weight events for six years.
“I started throwing in middle school,” said Moreno. “I was playing basketball and my coach, who was also the track coach, had me come out for track. I was put in the throwing events because I was a big kid with broad shoulders.”
The size, the strength and the power have always been there for Moreno. Huge strides forward came from improved technique.
“Yobani is very technique-oriented,” said Malloy. “He’s a student of his own throws. He throws and then he comes over and analyzes the throw. If something was off, he figures out what it was.”
Moreno is a student of the sport and a strong student academically. An honor roll student at Bensalem, he plans on being an IT major in school and is looking at West Chester University, Shippensburg University and Monmouth (N.J.) University.
“I do study my throws,” said Moreno. “I work on my technique every day. Every now-and-then, I’ll record myself when I’m throwing and analyze it.
“Last year, my main focus was on technique. This year, my focus is on strength. I’m in the weight room a lot – bench presses, dead lifts, squats and auxiliary lifts. I like training.
“Throwing appeals to me because it’s a very technical sport. And, I like it because it’s an individual sport.”
And, a major individual prize – a gold medal at the state championship meet – is Moreno’s primary goal for his final season of high school competition.
“I think Yobani can do really well at states,” said Malloy. “It’s just a matter of getting everything right at the same time.”
Season-opening individual meets usually don’t matter much for athletes when it comes to logging fast times, heights or distances. But, good results do help with bolstering confidence levels.
It always helps to start the season off on a good foot.
That’s exactly what William Tennent’s Emma Brodhag did this year at the Pennsylvania Track Classic, which was held March 31 at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.
The Panthers’ senior put on an impressive show in the horizontal jumps. Brodhag claimed the gold medal in triple jump at 34-4 and placed fifth in long jump with a distance of 15-7.5.
“Starting the season off with a gold medal was a definite confidence-builder,” said Brodhag. “My goals this year are to medal at districts in triple jump and to qualify for states. I finished seventh last year at districts but missed the state-qualifying distance by one inch.
“Making states is definitely my goal. I’ve been a lot more consistent this year and that is giving me a lot more confidence.”
William Tennent coach Eric Reynolds said, “The big things helping Emma with her technique and explosion has been working with a personal trainer – Warren Harvey – and a coach for technique – Charlie Kistner.
“She’s always been one of our best athletes, and triple jump is her better event. She’s a student of the game. She really takes it all in. She gets videos of her jumps, critiques them herself and gets coaches’ critiques too.”
Brodhag also is a sprinter for the Panthers and is a key member of the team’s 4x0100.
“I’ve been jumping all four years,” said Brodhag. “I started with long jump in middle school. When I was younger, I did gymnastics for 10 or 11 years. I was Level Eight and floor was my favorite event.
“When I stated jumping, I always thought triple jump was interesting. I liked that there were so many aspects – speed, agility and flexibility. It’s a really interesting event – an event in which I can maximize my attributes. This season, I’m focusing on working on my second phase.”
Brodhag also collected a pair of medals this season at the Upper Moreland Invitational. She took second place in triple jump at 35-8 and fourth in long jump at 16-6.
“The 35-8 at that meet was my season’s best,” said Brodhag. “My p.r. is 36-5 which I got last year at districts.”
Brodhag is active on William Tennent’s campus when it comes to athletics but absent when it comes to academics. She does her studies through Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School and is a member of the National Honor Society.
“I’ll be going to college at West Chester University,” said Brodhag, who serves as a volunteer for Montgomery County Special Olympics Gymnastics. “I’ll be majoring in speech and language pathology.”