IHS wins 3 track and field state titles

Published 5:04 pm Friday, June 1, 2018

The Isabella Mustangs track team excelled in the throwing events at the 2018 AHSAA State Track and Field Meet in Cullman.

Sophomore Katelyn Smitherman won state titles in girls javelin and girls discus. Senior Jarred Campbell won in boys shot put, and fellow senior Willie Washington rounded out the podium with a third-place finish in the same event.

“You’re out there with the best of the best,” Campbell said. “You know that if you don’t do your best, somebody else will.”

Campbell clinched the shot put competition with a distance of 45 feet, 8 inches, while Smitherman’s winning marks included distances of 110 feet and 105 feet, 3 inches in the discus and javelin respectively.

The wins were the first state titles for Smitherman after she came so close in 2017, but finished third in discus and second in javelin.

“I’ve worked hard for it ever since the seventh grade,” Smitherman said.

Smitherman was introduced to the sport of track and field by her brother Tyler, who was also a state champion during his time at Isabella.

It is a family legacy that continues to live on.

Although Smitherman is not built with the natural size and strength of most of the girls she competes against, it does not stop her from out-throwing those same opponents on a regular basis.

She relies heavily on technique to compensate for brute strength.

“I used to play softball, and I’ve got a pretty good arm,” Smitherman said. “I’ve had to change up my technique several times. You’ve got to find what works for you and go with it.”

According to Smitherman, discus and javelin may look similar, but they both require a very different approach.

“For discus you use more of your core, while it’s more shoulder and hips to throw the javelin,” Smitherman said.

Campbell was a versatile athlete during his high school career, having won state championships in both track and field disciplines.

He was able to finish at the top spot of the podium in just his second year competing in shot put.

According to Campbell, the team typically practiced about four days a week after school to hone their skills. That dedication came to the forefront during the state meet.

The 2018 titles gave the Isabella track and field program a total of 12 state champions over the years.

It was Rex Littleton’s final year as head coach of the track and field program after retiring from teaching at the end of the school year.

However, his final year ended on a high note, as he got the opportunity to see Isabella student-athletes standing on the top step of the podium one last time.

“They’re a special group,” Littleton said.