Delta junior primed to compete for titles in shot put, discus at 4A state
Valor Christian’s Haley Showalter now resides in Madison, Wisconsin, where throwing heavy things long distances is paying for her education at the University of Wisconsin.
Last spring as Showalter let fly with untouchable tosses of the discus (won by nearly 20 feet) and shot (won by nearly 7 feet) during the Class 4A state track and field meet, Delta High School sophomore Lily Lockhart got an up-close look at the state champ’s prowess.
“She’s awesome,” said Lockhart, who placed second in the shot put with a personal-record mark of 40-1.25 and was fourth in the discus.
Showalter gave Lockhart something to aspire to, and she’s in position to do it. The only person ahead of her in the shot put graduated. The three throwers ahead of Lockhart in the discus were seniors. Now, she’s looking to ascend to the top in each event, and she opened her junior season with throws that rival or surpass her best from a year ago.
She easily won the shot put and discus at the two meets she’s competed in this year, throwing the shot put 40-5.5 at the Delta Invitational two weekends ago and 39-11.5 at the Hotchkiss Invitational last weekend. The first one beat her previous best.
In the discus, she uncorked a 139-9 at the Delta Invite, blowing away her previous best of 133-0 during the middle of her sophomore season. She followed up with a 138-2 in Hotchkiss.
Palisade track and field coach Tim Reetz said after the Delta meet, “She might be the best in the state. Lily Lockhart is absolutely amazing.”
If more practice and warmer weather do for Lockhart this year what they did last year, when she was peaking at the end, the best is yet to come. It may be a smoother climb, too.
“What stands out this year is she’s way more consistent,” Delta track and field coach Matt Kevan said. “Last year she’d throw one really far, then a short one.”
Lockhart mentioned her consistency, too, adding, “This year almost every throw (of the discus) has been in the 130s.”
Lockhart said she worked hard in the offseason, whether it was practicing her throws or weight training. She sounds like a football player when she talks about the power lifts — bench press, squats, cleans — that are a regular part of her routine.
Brute strength can deliver much of the distance she gets in the shot put, but technique still matters. She started the season trying to spin on her throws of the shot, but she wasn’t happy with the results. She quickly switched back to the glide step, and her second official throw of the season broke her previous high mark.
Technique holds more sway over Lockhart’s discus results, and she has been polishing every facet of her form.
“I’m getting everything as perfect as I can,” she said. “I’m getting my footwork down and torque, my release, getting everything put together.”
Lockhart brings one more thing to the throwing rings that leads to her excellence: athleticism. A standout, home-run-hitting softball player, Lockhart also has speed and quickness to go with her strength. Kevan said Lockhart doesn’t run any races in track, but she could.
“I’d probably put her up as one of our four fastest athletes,” he said.
More than that, Kevan added, “Lily’s one of those athletes that comes around every once in a few decades.”
Reetz was more succinct in his assessment, saying, “Lily Lockhart is a stud.”
PALISADE GIRLS START STRONG
Palisade opened its season at the Delta Invitational and left with a team title for its girls team and a runner-up finish from its boys.
Reetz equates early season meets to practice, saying everything is about improvement, not wins. But wins are nice, and lots of Bulldogs got them.
Leading the way for the Palisade girls was senior Alexis Leonard, who got an expected win and an unexpected one.
Leonard, who tied for third in the high jump at the 4A state meet last year, cleared 5-2 to win at Delta. Reetz figured that already earned her a return to state, as he said, “Five-two has never not gone to state.”
Then, Leonard surprised Reetz by winning the 300 hurdles, an event he said she’d run just four or five times, with a time of 53.95 seconds.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect that from her,” Reetz said. “She had a gutsy performance. The 300 hurdles are all about heart, all about wanting it.”
Bulldogs senior Greta Van Calcar won the 1,600 meters and took second in the 800.
Palisade’s Laura Richardson won the triple jump with a leap of 33-5.75, and Reetz said of the junior, “She’s about 5-foot, 100 pounds, but man is she fiery.”
Senior Krista Carlo, who placed eighth at state in the discus last year, had a good meet in both throws, placing second to Lockhart in the discus with a toss of 110 feet.
Reetz thinks Carlo can break the school record, which he said is about 118 feet, and he thinks she can eclipse 120 feet.
BULLDOGS BOAST BALANCE
The Palisade boys team had a good first meet in Delta, finishing with 134 points, 11 behind Montrose, and that was without versatile senior Jay Shuman, a 4A state qualifier in both hurdles events last year. Shuman was fresh off competing in a national indoor meet and sat out the Delta meet.
Palisade got plenty of points from a variety of athletes.
Hunter Mathews won the high jump (6-2) and triple jump (41-5.5) and finished second to Class 2A state runner-up Shane Gates in the 110-meter hurdles.
Zaccre Kenward had what Reetz termed “a great day,” placing second in the 200 and 400 and third in the long jump.
Kenward and Mathews also ran legs on the winning 800-meter relay.
“I couldn’t be happier with our performances,” Reetz said, adding boys champ Montrose “has a good team.”
MORE BULLDOGS THAN EVER
Reetz likes what he saw in Delta and thinks Palisade is in for a good year, led by high-placing athletes and bolstered by depth.
He said he has the most girls out for track he’s ever had, and the boys numbers are high, too. He said on paper he has 88 athletes out for the two teams, and about 80 regular attendants at practice. Of those, he said it’s about an even split between girls and boys.
“For the first time we have a varsity squad and a solid JV squad where we can cover every event,” Reetz said.
He also thinks the Bulldogs could be well-represented at the state meet in May.
“As far as 4A track and field goes, I think we have some kids who can compete for state championships,” he said.
TWO MEETS, TWO TITLES
Reetz said Montrose has a good boys team, and that’s played out in both of the Indians’ meets this season: team titles at Delta and Hotchkiss.
Montrose has two athletes capable of doubling up on individual wins every meet: distance runner Ian Meek and thrower Sam Distel. Indians coach Kyle Miller said after the Hotchkiss Invitational he was impressed with Justin Hawkins, who won the 400, and Tylan Booth, who won the 300 hurdles. Miller said Booth’s time of 44.68 in the hurdles was three seconds better than he ran a year ago, leading the coach to add, “I’m really thrilled with how he’s doing.”
Evan Graff gives the Indians a great 1-2 punch with Meek in the distance races, whichever combination they choose. At Hotchkiss, each ran the 800 and 1,600. In Delta, both ran the 1,600 and 3,200.
Miller said Graff has dropped 11 seconds in the 1,600, “and that’s a huge amount for this time of the season.”
SECOND PLACES NET FIRST
The Montrose girls won the team title in Hotchkiss after placing second in Delta.
The Indians took that title with a mere three victories in events: Madisyn Minerich in the 400; the 800 relay; and the 3,200 relay. They picked up a lot more points with runner-up finishes in six events, with freshman Abigail Renfrow taking second in the 200 and 400.
Miller said word of Renfrow’s speed was getting back to him last year when she was an eighth-grader and he was in his first season as Montrose’s head coach.
“I heard she was pretty good,” he said, “and she’s living up to that hype.”
Miller said the Indians got a boost this year, too, with the return of Katie Casebier, a junior who missed last season with a knee injury. Casebier placed third in the 300 hurdles and ran a leg on the winning 800 relay.
“She’s starting to get that confidence and getting her legs back,” Miller said.