October 24, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
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Track: Medina’s Cari Pallini steals a page from brothers, dad

Growing up in a house with two older brothers can be tough for any girl.

Medina’s Cari Pallini didn’t mind. It made her into the no-excuses, gritty competitor she is today.

Medina's Cari Pallini will be competing at the state tournament in both the shotput and discus. (PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

“It made me into a tomboy, but in the end everything turned out good,” she said Thursday. “I’m a no-nonsense person, and that’s because of them.”

Pallini grew up watching her brothers — 2005 graduate Brian and 2007 grad John — have standout throwing careers for the Bees.

Despite following in those big footsteps, the 18-year-old has carved her own career and will now do something both her brothers did: The senior will participate in the state track meet when she competes in the shot put and discus Saturday at Jesse Owens Stadium.

“It’s really awesome. I’m excited,” Pallini said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a while and to do it in both events, I didn’t expect it.”

Since elementary school, Pallini has taken an interest in the sport. While her brothers were a big influence — Brian coaches throwers at his alma mater, Marietta College, and John coaches at Boardman High after a college career at Youngstown State — her father Paul was also an accomplished thrower. He competed for Ohio Northern and currently serves as a volunteer coach at Medina.

“I think I was about 7 or 8 when I first physically picked up a shot and tried to throw it,” Cari Pallini recalled. “After that it just was like, ‘Let’s keep trying.’ It worked out well.”

It was a family affair to the point that her dad and two brothers worked on technique on Sundays, but there was no pressure to try the event. She just enjoyed it.

“I wanted to do it for myself more than my family wanted me to do it,” Pallini said. “I’ve had my family behind me the whole way. I’ve been fortunate.

“I play basketball, too, and there’s a major contrast between the two. In throwing, I’m doing it for myself. In basketball, I’m doing it for the team. With my strength, I just felt like it was a fit. Plus, I don’t like running.”

When it came down to the Amherst Division I Regional and the last shot to go to Columbus, Pallini just went for it.

No pressure, no what-ifs, she just went out and threw like she always has.

The approach paid off, as the 5-foot-11 Pallini surprised even herself by throwing the shot a personal-best 39 feet, 8¾ inches to finish runner-up. On the second day of the meet, she followed with a toss of 123-4 to advance in the discus.

“It was kind of whatever happens, happens,” she said. “I definitely thought I would place in the discus, but the shot I didn’t expect. The world works in mysterious ways.”

Bees coach Scott VanFleet was proud to see Pallini accomplish something she has been striving for her entire prep career.

“It was a big load off her shoulders,” he said. “She had her ups and downs throughout the years, but this year you could see her confidence. She earned her way there.”

Now that Pallini has secured her bids in the two events, which are slated for noon and 3 p.m. at Ohio State University, she has new goals. She wants to get to the podium — twice.

“I would love to place in both,” she said. “I know I can do it in the shot, but I won’t be too discouraged if I don’t and I have a good chance in the disc. But if not, that’s OK, too.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.