State Champ: Williams tops in shot put

Published 10:04 am Thursday, July 1, 2021

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The Davie track team wrapped up its season Friday evening at the state 4-A championships at NC A&T in Greensboro.

The top-four finishers in each event from the four regional sites advanced to the state finals, where 16 individual competitors and relay teams battled for the right to be crowned state champion.  When the dust settled, the War Eagles had captured one individual championship and an eighth-place team finish.

Leading the way was junior Spencer Williams, who demolished the field in the shot put and followed that effort with a runner-up finish in the discus. Williams unleashed a terrific series of throws, capped by an effort of 60-2 to claim gold in the shot. His nearest competitor, Desmond Coleman of Providence, had a best throw of 54-0.5, which was more than six feet shy of Williams’ mark. Ironically, Coleman’s family lived in Davie County until several years ago when they moved to Charlotte.

Shortly after winning the shot put, Williams joined his younger brother Palmer in the discus. But unlike Spencer’s domination in the shot, the discus competition was filled with drama. In the throws and horizontal jumps, each competitor is initially given three attempts. The top nine then advance to the finals and are awarded an additional three attempts.

Williams uncharacteristically fouled on his first two attempts, thus leaving the pre-meet favorite in jeopardy of not reaching the final. Williams took extra precautions on his third attempt and made a “safety” throw of 140 feet, which was good enough to make the finals. Williams had a best effort of 169-8 in his final three throws to move up to second, but fell short of his quest for a second title as North Mecklenburg senior Brayden Radhuber threw a personal-best 179-2 for the win. Meanwhile, Palmer Williams, one of only two sophomores in the field, threw 112-10 for 14th place.

Davie was also well represented in what turned out to be a bizarre high jump competition. Senior Ivan Poag and junior Bryson Robinson came into the meet as two of the favorites after each had cleared 6-6 earlier in the year. Perhaps it was a case of not being acclimated to the newly poured surface or maybe a case of state meet jitters, but none of the competitors could seem to find a rhythm. One by one the jumpers missed at heights below their capabilities. In a normal year, it would take a clearance of 6-8 to win the title. But this year a clearance of only 6-2 was good enough to win. Poag finished fourth at 6-0 while Robinson claimed 13th at 5-10.

Poag was not finished, however. The long jump competition takes place at the same time as the high jump, thus requiring Poag to go back and forth between the events, which also required him to change his shoes which are specialized for each event upwards of 10 times. The Davie senior advanced to the final  before settling for ninth place with a best effort of 20-8.50. Poag also advanced to the final of the triple jump, where his mark of 43-6.50 was good for fifth place.

In the boys team competition, Davie amassed 26 points for eighth place. Millbrook claimed the championship with 53 points to edge Mallard Creek (51) and Reagan (43).

The Davie girls were represented by sophomore Monica Long, who came into the meet fresh off her personal best shot put when she captured the regional title the previous week. Long managed a best throw of 31-0.25 to claim 10th place.

Olympic tallied 69 points to claim the championship ahead of Cardinal Gibbons (52) and Harding University (47).

“Our top-10 finish was really gratifying,” said coach Rob Raisbeck. “Certainly there were opportunities to pick up a few more points here and there, and if things had fallen our way we could have been top five. But we competed hard and really had an amazing season. Second at conference, third at regionals and eighth at states among 80 4-A schools is something to celebrate. Even more impressive is that if you merge the results of all four championship meets we would have finished 10th among the approximately 400 schools in North Carolina. And we did it without seriously contending in the six sprint and sprint relay events. For us to take the next step we will need to find some more quality sprinters who are able to score at championship meets.”

Next up for S. Williams is the Nike National High School Championships this week in Eugene, Or. Williams will compete in both of the throws events just a few days after the conclusion of the U.S. Olympic Trials at historic Hayward Field.

“Several of our other athletes will be competing in AAU competition this summer under the direction of coach (Marc) Sweet,” said Raisbeck. “Meanwhile, our distance crew is taking a two-week break after regionals and we will ease back into cross country training this week. It’s only two months until the first meet and our team is really excited about having a real cross country season this fall without the COVID protocols we experienced this past year.”