COLUMBUS - Maplewood's Stephen Pop may not have had his best day throwing the discus, but after the Division III boys discus event on Friday, he's trying to take a glass-half-full approach.
Outside of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, the junior took third place, improving on last year's sixth-place finish. While he improved his placement, Pop's best throw on the day traveled 156 feet, 10 inches in the air, almost six feet shorter than his best throw in 2012.
"I guess nobody threw well today," Pop said. "If I would have thrown my (personal record), I would have gotten second today. It depends on how you look at it. (Third) isn't bad - it's better than last year."
Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Maplewood’s Stephen Pop heaves the discus during the State Track and Field Meet on Friday in Columbus. Pop finished third in the Division III discus competition.
Part of Pop's hesitation to celebrate his third-place medal stemmed from a disqualification after the event that gave him his final position.
When North Robinson Colonel Crawford's Clay Jury threw his last throw in the final round, he let more than just the disk fly. He roared an expletive in the throwing area, and following a 15-minute discussion with Jury and his coach, officials ruled to disqualify him.
Jury's throw of 160-9 was the third best in the event.
"I feel bad for the kid," Pop said. "I guess it's in the rulebook that you can't do that. It's not exactly how I wanted to earn third place. I understand how frustrated he was with it, but I guess you can't let yourself do that."
The ruling didn't just help out Pop, as two other area throwers qualified for the final. McDonald's Christian Smith and South Range's Jon Kenney bumped up to sixth and eighth place, respectively.
Like Pop, Smith said he felt some sympathy for Jury, but the Blue Devil sophomore also was more critical.
"Really, it was his fault," said Smith, whose best throw went 53-4. "In no situation should you say that. I don't care how mad you are, what you do that's just not really acceptable. I agree with the disqualification, and I'm happy I got bumped up.
"I feel bad for the kid, but that's fair."
As for Kenney, he received a place on the podium because of the disqualification, but he doesn't want to let that sour his achievement. The senior blew out his knee during football season his sophomore and junior years, meaning he missed the better part of two seasons of track.
His best throw was 151-9.
"That was my goal for this year, just to place at state," Kenney said. "I was a little bummed because I was ninth, but it's just the best feeling in the world."
Although Pop didn't do as well as he expected, the junior did have a few highlights to take with him. He broke the school's previous discus record of 164 feet with a 170-2 at the Independence District on May 24.
"My goal this year was to break the school record," Pop said. "I did that, I really started to get close to within a foot of the shot put record at our school, too. That's something to look forward to next year."
MCDONALD GIRLS PLACE IN DISCUS: Another set of state-meet returnees took top-eight spots in the Division III girls discus. McDonald's Jai'Lyn Mosley and Tori Ross finished fourth and seventh, respectively.
"When we come (to state), our first goal is to make it to finals," Mosley said. "After that, you just have fun with it."
The Blue Devil juniors returned to Columbus after qualifying last year, but the two had mixed results this time around.
Both placed two spots below last year's performance. Mosley managed to throw a 136-11, which was one foot more than she threw outside of Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in 2012. Ross, meanwhile, threw a 128-4 on her last attempt in the final round.
Despite the digression, they both have something to take forward.
"Throwing-wise I felt OK," Ross said. "I feel like I could have thrown a little bit better, but I don't think I could have prepared myself any more.
"I'm still happy I placed. I'm very grateful for that and the fact that I had the opportunity to throw here for the second year in a row. I wish I would have done a little bit better, but I still placed and made it to the podium. I'm proud of that."