Diane Lieber-Campbell is a Catholic League pioneer

Posted: May 15, 2011

When Diane Lieber-Campbell woke up and went to work Saturday morning, she didn't have much of an inkling that she would be the centerpiece of a fairly historic day.

Lieber-Campbell, 32, was on her way to the Philadelphia Catholic League track and field championships. A PIAA official since 2006 and PCL alum from her days at Bishop McDevitt, it was looking like just another regular day at the track.

Until she arrived, and St. Joe's Prep coach Curtis Cockenberg informed her of this little tidbit: Lieber-Campbell became the first female meet referee in PCL track and field history Saturday in a league that has held championships in the sport since the mid-1940s.

"I don't know if there's a record book per se," Lieber-Campbell said on the infield at Upper Darby, "but for my name to go down in history in the PCL for being the first female . . . I've been a part of the Philadelphia Catholic League since I was a little girl, so make history of it. I broke a few records when I was running and it's neat to be on the officiating side of it."

Lieber-Campbell was an assistant coach under Nicole Palazzolo at her alma mater for 10 seasons before leaving McDevitt this year because of health issues, she said. As a high school runner, she competed in the hurdles and as a part of McDevitt's 4x400-meter relay team.

"I don't think it's that they purposely never had a female referee," she said, standing by the officials' tent over the weekend. "Myself and Nicole from McDevitt joke that this is the boys' club that we're a part of. Track and field, as you can see by most of the people down here, are mostly men who officiate and coach.

"And here we are two girls who have been doing it for 10 years. It's neat to have my name as the first female doing something when I've been in here doing it for 10 years."

Cardinal rules. For three years, Chazz Wilks has strutted into the PCL track and field championships, and for three years he has produced the very same result: He has won both shot put and discus individual gold medals.

Wilks, a Cardinal O'Hara junior, has been a mainstay atop the boys' field events ever since he was a freshman. On Saturday, Wilks won again with consistent, strong performances across both events. In three shot put attempts, he eclipsed the 50-foot mark. His winning throw of 52 feet, 05.25 inches is less than a foot off his personal record.

In discus, his preferred event, 164-6 was good enough to win, but one miscue cost him something a little sweeter.

"On the last [throw], I foot-fouled, like, [at] 186 [feet]," Wilks said. "That would have been the [league] record. That would have been nice."

"Three wins straight, shot and disc? That's good. I'll take it," Wilks said.

Last week, Wilks threw a personal record of 174-05 in the discus on his way to the boys' Delco championship. He also took silver in the shot put. He wants to surpass the 180-foot plateau in the discus and thinks he has a shot at a state title. He's hoping to place in the top three in the shot.

"The beginning of the season, I was real inconsistent," Wilks said. "Throughout the year I've just been working on form and getting stronger. Now, it's getting consistent."

Coming up. District 12, which includes the Philadelphia Public and Catholic leagues, opens its track and field championships this Wednesday at Germantown High and La Salle. The meet runs through Thursday. That day, District 1 begins its championship meet at Coatesville, and will conclude with finals on Friday.

The PIAA track and field championships come the following weekend on May 27 at Shippensburg University.

Contact Evan Burgos

at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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