Injuries open new doors for shot put champions at Terror Invite track and field meet

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Photo - Fountain-Fort Carson senior Austyn Bazet takes the baton from junior Ahmed Bernard in the boys 4x800 meter relay. The Palmer Terrors hosted the 2017 Terror Track and Field Invite on March 25, 2017 at Garry Berry Stadium. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
Fountain-Fort Carson senior Austyn Bazet takes the baton from junior Ahmed Bernard in the boys 4x800 meter relay. The Palmer Terrors hosted the 2017 Terror Track and Field Invite on March 25, 2017 at Garry Berry Stadium. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Shin splints got the best of sprinter Shaelynn Williams. A season-ending shoulder injury sidelined football player Bryce Laughlin.

The juniors from Mesa Ridge and Palmer, respectively, seem to have found their new niches in the shot put after each had winning efforts Saturday at the Terror Invitational at Garry Berry Stadium.

Williams reset by 7 inches her school record from a week ago, heaving the shot 37 feet, 11 inches.

"At my third meet from last year, I was probably throwing (the shot) about 28 feet," Williams said. "If anyone would have said I'd be throwing nearly 38 feet a year later, I would have said they were crazy. In the past year, I've gotten healthier, and I've practiced more."

As a freshman, Williams dabbled in many short-distance events, taking part in the 100 and 400 and three different relays.

Then came a turning point. She needed time off due to injury, perhaps from overdoing it.

"My shins were so bad that I had to stop running for a bit," Williams said. "I thought in my head that I could try throwing. I was in so many events, I didn't know if I'd be good at any of them. Maybe if started throwing and could find that one thing, I could stick to it and be good at it."

At last year's Terror Invite, Laughlin managed a throw of 38-10½ in the shot, while his discus effort Saturday - he finished second - measured exactly 29 feet farther than not quite a year ago.

On Saturday, Laughlin didn't have his best throw, but his effort in the shot at 43-7 was good enough for the event title.

"He came close to making state as a sophomore in his first year in track," Palmer coach Gerald Freeman said. "He has natural talent. He's just a great presence and pleasant kid to be around. He works hard and is a great young man."

One day after a spring snowstorm shut down most school districts after blanketing the area with a mixture of snow and slush, the sun and warmth returned just in time to keep the annual event on schedule.

Cherry Creek won the boys' and girls' titles. The Classical Academy had five event wins and finished second in the girls' race, while Fountain-Fort Carson, on the strength of four event victories, came in second out of 25 boys' teams.

Now that Williams and Laughlin have proven themselves in the shot put, expectations will rise.

Both seem ready for the challenge.

"I'm not satisfied with 37-11," Williams said. "I think I can go over 40. That's what I want to do. That's not a crazy thought anymore."

Freeman added: "I think Bryce can be top three in the state, I really do. He may be relatively new to the sport, but he works very hard, and he's very disciplined."