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AW’s Pollard Earns State Titles In Discus And Shot Put

Pollard stands atop the podium as a first-time shot put champion at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium last Saturday. PHOTO COURTESY OF AW TRACK AND FIELD

BY JOEL SENSING | MIRROR SPORTS — Senior Maddy Pollard put not one but two exclamation points on a record-breaking career at Anthony Wayne by winning state championships in both the shot put and discus at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium last Saturday. Pollard, the defending Division I champion in the discus, topped everyone in both events on Saturday on the campus of The Ohio State University. The day capped an exceptional high school career that included many school, league, district and regional records in the throwing events. “It felt incredible,” she said of her 2-for-2 day. “The field of competitors was phenomenal and I truly believe the competition brought out the winning throws. Winning both was just an awesome ending to my senior year.” Both the qualifying round and the finals for the throwers took place on Saturday. Pollard, who will throw at Indiana University next year, claimed her first championship of the day by defending her discus title with a throw of 159 feet. She bested the runner-up, Findlay senior Zaresha Neal, by 14 inches (157-10). The previous week at districts in Amherst, Neal had topped Pollard (158-4) with a massive throw of 164-5. Pollard’s title-winning discus throw was more than 15 feet farther than her 2016 championship mark of 143-10. Next, Pollard set her sights on the shot put, an event she’s dominated during the regular season but faltered in last year in regional competition, failing to make state in the event. Pollard wasn’t about to let that happen again, unleashing a heave of 48-11-1/2 on her final throw. The toss was plenty long enough to win the event, as Mason junior and runner-up Amaya King (46-7) was more than two feet short of Pollard. The senior said there were a number of keys contributing to her championships on Saturday. “I credit my competition, mindset and training,” she said. “All three played huge contributing factors toward the victories. “I needed to hit my positions and also not get stressed when another athlete had a big throw. It was a mix of physical and mental.” AW track and field coach Jim Lopez, who is now retired as coach after 20 seasons at the school (see related story in this edition), said he could tell Pollard was focused all day Saturday. “She was very calm and on her game,” he said, noting she didn’t let the pressure of the big stage in Columbus get to her. “She worked hard for this and she deserved it. What an amazing year, season for that athlete. What a way to end my time at Anthony Wayne.” Pollard said her years at AW will benefit her as a Hoosier. “My time at Anthony Wayne has taught me that nothing is given, but only earned,” she said. “My experience has also taught me how to be humble and respect other athletes. From high school, I have learned that anyone can be beat on any given day. “Going into college with this mindset will help prepare me for going up against some of the best collegiate athletes.” Senior Zoe Hunt, competing in her first season of track, was a state qualifier in the 400-meter dash. She placed 15th in preliminaries with a time of 60.77 and did not compete on Saturday. Sophomore Alexa Fries, making her second trip to state, finished 12th in the high jump with a leap of 5-2. “I was totally proud as a head coach of all of the girls,” Lopez said.

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