By Joe Scalzo
Anthony Shivers’ first discus throw at Saturday’s Division II state meet didn’t feel quite right (“It had a weird release”) and it didn’t look quite right (“The lines here are a little distorted and with the cage, it’s kind of hard to tell”) and when they announced the distance, his coach’s response didn’t sound quite right.
“They said I squealed,” said Salem throwing coach Jen Neapolitan, chuckling. “I don’t think that’s accurate. I think it was someone else.”
The throw, by the way, landed 190 feet, 7 inches away, which was a personal-best for an athlete who had broken conference, district and regional records over the previous three weeks.
“Once they said [the distance], I was ... I was really happy,” Shivers said, breaking into a huge grin.
That measurement rendered the next hour of competition irrelevant — heck, Shivers’ second- and third-best throws would have also been good enough for first — and was the nonverbal equivalent of Larry Bird entering the locker room before the 3-point contest in 1988 and shouting “Who’s finishing second?”
“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid,” Neapolitan said. “He’s the whole package. He does what he needs to do. He gets his lifting done. He takes the throws he needs to get. He listens. Everything.
“He knows what he needs to do.”
Shivers credited his coaches — including local throwing coach Nick Panezich — for all his success.
“They’re the greatest,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
Shivers’ finish was the area’s only gold on a solid, if not-quite spectacular day.
Struthers senior Kodie Fennell made a run at the 800-meter title, leading for the first 600 meters by setting a seemingly suicidal pace.
“I thought I’d go out there and try to pull them with me and tire them out,” said Fennell, who finished third. “I tried to kick at the 210 [meters] mark but the wind on the last 100 stopped me and I was just holding on.”
But after finishing ninth last year — one spot short of the medal podium — he couldn’t complain.
“I wanted redemption,” he said. “Getting a medal has been my thing all year.”
Mooney’s 4x100 relay was eyeing gold but also came away pleased with a third-place finish, particularly since the Cardinals will return all four runners.
“We love the competition and we’re pushing ourselves to get better and beat [two-time champion Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary],” said junior anchor Marcus McWilson, a Nebraska football recruit whose older brother, Matt, anchored two state championship 4x100 relays. “Since track is over we still have football, so we want to get another win in that.
Lakeview senior Lauren Schattinger doesn’t have that luxury — “Honestly this is probably one of the hardest meets for me, knowing it’s the last of my high school career,” she said — but she went out strong, placing second in both the 100 and 200 and helping the Bulldogs finish fifth in the 4x100 relay.
“Honestly, I left everything I have out on the track,” said Schattinger, who has six top-five finishes in her career. “I’m very blessed to have everything I do and to have the opportunity to finish my career here.
“I’ve been surrounded by great people and I couldn’t have asked for a better career.”
Poland junior Sage Spotleson provided the Valley’s other bronze in Division II in the 100 hurdles, running a personal-best 15.04.
“I gave it everything I had,” she said.