Stauffer's journey back to the top complete

It doesn't have the same ring as R-E-S-P-E-C-T, but C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-E meant the world to Emily Stauffer on Sunday in the PTFCA State Indoor Championship.

Returning to the same circle where she burst onto the national scene more than two years ago, the Cocalico junior picked up her second state indoor title and took another step in her return from 2014 shoulder surgery.

"I needed to hit something in prelims before finals just to know that I have it in me," Stauffer said of her second-rounder that soon turned golden. "That helped a lot. If I had gone into finals not seeded first, I would have been even more stressed out than I already was."

Throwing last in the field of 15, Stauffer took the lead for good with a 47-foot put that only nine others nationally have bettered in 2015. The effort was good enough for the win, but not without intense competition from the state's other top thrower and the latest standout from Hickory.

Senior Elena Marchand added almost two feet to her PR and nearly stole the title with her US#11 46-10. Courtney McCartney of Selinsgrove was third at 46-1.

"It made me really nervous," Stauffer said of the state indoor meet. "I felt a lot of pressure to come out and win again. I had the reputation that fresh year I won and Courtney won last year. I need to come out and I need to throw my best throw. Forty-seven was not my PR, but it was enough to win."

In the 2013 PTFCA meet, Stauffer employed a nearly identical game plan -- throw long early and make the field catch you. She opened that competition with a throw of 43-6.75 that led the PA indoor list in 2013 and was US#31.

The 2014 season ended almost before it began for the right-hander. A weightlifting injury resulted in surgery on her throwing shoulder, but it did not keep Stauffer from competing as she soon became a left-hander so she could be in the ring while her dominant arm healed.

"When I figured out I had to get shoulder surgery, I was really bummed," she said. "I can't go a whole season without doing anything so I am going to throw left-handed. When I threw left-handed, it really helped me for this year because it cross-trained me.

"I figured out so much more of the shot put than I knew just from left-handed throwing. I was hungry for the state championship this year. I was sitting back and seeing everyone and all their success. I could be up there I could be competing with them, too. I was hungry for it."

Fast forward a season and Stauffer is back as No. 1 in Pennsylvania and US#7 with a 47-10 put from January. She backed up her yearly leader with her second watch-winning throw.

"I think it was a huge confidence boost for her," said Stauffer's father, Mark. "To know that it was only exactly one year ago last Monday that she had the surgery, so to come out and be able to throw a decent throw today. Definitely, I think it helps her confidence."