Setting the standard

Christian Smith’s throw of 181 feet, 9 inches ranks him sixth in the state and tops among all Division III throwers.

His throw of 57-2.75 is 12th best in the state and second best in Division III.

The McDonald High School junior gives all of his accolades to his throwing coach Mary Domitrovich, who also is the school’s girls track and field coach.

“I don’t think we’d be anywhere without her. She’s all where it comes from,” said Smith, who won the Division III Navarre regional track and field shot put and discus titles last week.

However, what if Smith wasn’t a thrower? What if he stayed with distance running, something Smith did in middle school?

Instead, a younger Smith saw the sheer power of former McDonald state shot put and discus champion Matthias Tayala in 2011, who is heading to this year’s NCAA Championships in the hammer throw for Kent State University.

“I got hurt in cross country one too many times, I guess,” Smith said. “It always seemed appealing to me. After I saw Matthias was able to do so much that he did, it fascinated me. I really wanted to try it. I gave it a shot my freshman year. I started off kind of poorly and I got good at it by the end. I decided that’s something I really love and I want to stick with.”

Ironically, Smith has the same body type Tayala had when he was a junior at McDonald. It’s the main reason Smith ditched distance running for the throws. In Tayala’s senior year, he and KSU teammate Miles Dunlap won the 2011 Division III state title for McDonald.

“He’s skinny. He beats everyone,” Smith said of Tayala. “I think I’m better suited for this.”

Just like how McDonald senior Bobby Johnson is suited for distance running. He won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs Friday in Navarre. He ran 4:17.90, his personal best on Friday. His best in the 3,200 is 9:17.90, which he ran at this year’s May 3 Optimist Meet in Austintown.

Both times rank tops in Division III.

“It’ll be hard to choose. If I run the mile, I’ll definitely run the 2 mile,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure if I’ll drop the mile or not. It depends how things look around the state and turn out. It’ll be a tough decision. I’ll see.”

Domitrovich said it’s been neat to see Smith’s progression from cross country to the throws.

“He played a little bit with it in junior high, but didn’t really come around into it,” she said. “His freshman year, he took it real seriously. He began to understand the mechanics of it, the technique, getting into the weight room and taking that a little bit more seriously.”

Nowadays, Domitrovich wouldn’t think of asking Smith to run a standard 3.1-mile cross country race.

“I wouldn’t,” Domitrovich said. “I don’t think that would go well.”