DENTON - Local shot put athletes placed in the top three in the boys category during the Region II-4A Track and Field Championships at the University of North Texas Friday but only two qualified to advance to state, making it an all-Red Oak affair.
Senior Michael Carter Jr. placed first with a throw of 61 feet, 0 1/2 inches, achieving that mark on his sixth and final attempt.
His teammate, Corwin Pace, placed second after he made a 57 feet, 0 1/2 inch throw in his fifth attempt.
Waxahachie’s Austin White received a medal for placing third but was unable to qualify for the state meet.
White threw for 54 feet, 6 3/4 inches, his mark coming on his final attempt also.
For Red Oak, it’s not out of the ordinary for Hawks athletes to advance to the state meet, which will be at Mike Myers Stadium, on the campus of the University of Texas, in Austin.
The Hawks made the trek south last year when Carter placed third in the category and Pace competed in the discus.
“It gets tougher from district to regional and it’ll get that much harder at state, but I just concentrate on what I need to do and not worry so much about what others are doing,” Carter said.
Carter has remained injury free throughout the track and field season and came out of the football season as a defensive lineman unscathed with minor bumps and bruises.
It helped in his competition despite being called for a foul twice.
He threw in the 59-feet range twice, with his lowest mark 58 feet, 9 3/4 inches.
If it weren’t for his father, Michael Carter Sr., there probably wouldn’t be talk of the national record in shot put.
As impressive as 61 feet is, it’s still a long way from 81 feet, 3 inches, which the elder Carter made when he was in high school in 1979.
Michael Jr. had said in the past he would have liked to break the record. The only opportunity he’s going to have now is at state.
If he doesn’t match or break his father’s 29-year-old high school record, perhaps Michael Jr. can catch up to the three Super Bowl rings his father earned as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
Michael Sr. also competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics in the shot put category.
For Pace, he is content having placed second, considering it was his teammate who beat him and that he hadn’t even been qualified to go.
With his Red Oak teammate Preston Sanders out of contention for regional, Pace made the most of his opportunity.
It wasn’t a very promising start for Pace in the shot put as he fouled on his first attempt. He made up for it when he made a 57 foot, 3/4 inch throw on his second attempt. He went up and down on his throws as he threw for 56 feet and then once again in the 57s, his lowest mark coming in the 55-foot range on his final attempt.
“I’m glad I was able to qualify because I came in fourth place at the district meet but an opportunity opened up for me and I was able to rise up,” Pace said.
It made up for a junior year that saw him place third in the category, which didn’t qualify him for state.
Pace said he is humbled by the experience of advancing, considering where he ranked in district just two weeks ago at Lancaster High School’s Humphrey Stadium.
His approach is that of an athlete that is not found often in a teenager.
“It’s all about your mental approach; I keep it as a business trip and not as a time just to get away from school like a vacation almost,” Pace said.
At the District 15-4A Meet, teammate Sanders threw for 57 feet, 7 inches.
Carter and Pace also have a good chance to qualify in the discus event after Pace won the district title with a throw of 190 feet, 3 inches. Carter threw for 170 feet, 4 1/2 inches.
Pace’s longest throw in the discus is 193 feet, 9 inches attained last year at a Lancaster Tiger Invitational.
Eventually he would go on to place second at state in the discus.
One could say that Pace was walking on hallowed grounds since his father, Richard Pace, was a standout sprinter at North Texas in the early 1980s.
Richard and Michael Carter Jr. have helped their sons exceed in their sports throughout the high school careers.
E-mail Albert at firstname.lastname@example.org