Usually when shot putters improve their distance this late in the season, it comes in inches. Mark Lowe’s improvement came in feet, three of them to be exact.
While the West Holmes Knights junior has a couple of teammates who were highly expected to perform well at the Div. II district meet at West Holmes High School on Saturday, May 20 and thus move on to the regional level of competition, Lowe was not among them.
In fact Lowe wasn’t on anyone’s radar when it came to competing for a regional berth. Then Lowe uncorked a throw that went three feet beyond what he had ever thrown before. And just to make sure that everyone at the throwing pit didn’t think it was a fluke, he did it again.
And just like that, Lowe was joining teammates Josh Goudy and Madison Kandel at regionals with a throw of 45-10.25.
“It’s just a matter of getting the right form down and working hard in practice,” Lowe said. “It has been fun to see myself progress and grow over the course of the season. I am excited to get a chance to throw at regionals. I was really glad I hit that kind of throw again after I did it the first time because it gives me confidence and shows people it wasn’t luck.”
“I can’t say enough about Mark to improve by three feet at this point in the year. That is incredible,” throwing coach Pete Norman said of Lowe. “He has gotten better and better all year, and that is figuring out where you’re at in the ring and proper technique. Plus, it is a lot of weight room work.”
Early on it looked like Goudy and Claymont’s Blake Linard were going to play a game of “can you top this” as they started one-upping each other in warm-ups. But when it counted, Linard came up big, chucking a 52-08.5 to win it. River View’s Kyle McClain took second with a throw of 50-00.75, and Goudy came in third at 49.00.25.
On the girls side East Liverpool senior Lindsay Baker sent a screamer of 48-00.75 to win easily while second went to Alivia Bentley of Carrollton with a throw of 44-11.25. Third went to Indian Valley’s Ashton Warner, who uncorked a throw of 38-11.75 while Kandel snuck into fourth with a throw of 36-09.75. Just outside the four to advance was Kandel’s teammate Kacie Leppla, who placed fifth with a throw of 33-04.25.
In the girls discus Baker won with a throw of 143-01, Bentley was second at 127-05 and Kandel placed third at 124-10.
Goudy provided a huge win for the Knights with a behemoth throw of 165-04, his best of the season.
“The coaches have said all along that we just need to trust them with the process, and we have built up to where we are now throwing at the peak of where we want to be,” Goudy said. “Now it is about being consistent with each throw and letting it all go.”
Goudy said he knew immediately when he let that throw go that he had chucked up a winner. “I actually thought it was longer than it ended up.”
Goudy’s teammate Eric Barbey nearly pulled off a Lowe and came up just shy, placing sixth with a throw of 135-04. It was a good day of throwing for the Knights.
“Three out to regionals is one less than we were hoping for, but for the most part we are right where we want to be,” Norman said. “The kids are putting the time in, and now is when you want to start peaking.”
Norman said Lowe getting to glean from the two state qualifiers is a huge plus for the junior, and Lowe agreed.
“I am super excited for Mark to make it out,” Goudy said of his teammate. “I knew that was a good throw right away. For him to be able to get fourth and come to regionals with us is going to be a huge experience for him. He has taken some great steps toward becoming an elite thrower this year.”
Lowe said having the two state qualifiers is good because they have been through the rigors of understanding the pressure of throwing at regionals and know what it takes to be successful at that level. “That’s important because they have been through it, and they can share a lot with me that is going to be valuable,” Lowe said.
Norman said all three of his throwers know that it will take a great deal to reach the state level, but he also said they have all stuck to the throwing program to a tee this season and appear ready to ratchet it up a level as they fight for a shot to get to state.