Area throwers headed to Columbus

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Garfield’s Dylan Wilson throws the discus Thursday at the Division II regional meet at Austintown.

AUSTINTOWN — Dylan Wilson was playing junior varsity baseball his freshman year before Garfield High School athletic director Jim Pfleger told him about track and field.

Wilson was 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds his sophomore year. He didn’t throw the discus more than 99 feet.

Wilson, who thought throwing was a good way for him to stay in shape for football in the fall, saw his progression increase to 136 feet.

Maybe the football lineman should take this throwing thing seriously?

Wilson was never shy about lifting, and kept doing so over the years.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Girard's Daryl Smith throws during finals of the boys discus at Thursday's Division II Austintown Regional track and field meet.

This year, his senior season, there was a marked improvement.

Thursday, Wilson’s best throw was 152-3. The Garfield senior was in fifth place heading into his sixth and final throw at the Division II Austintown Regional track and field meet. He entered the concrete throwing circle. The top four places in each regional final advance to next weekend’s state meet in Columbus.

“I was thinking the whole time, ‘Either it’s this or I’m out,'” Wilson said. “I was getting mad. Get mad, get loose and get over my left. That’s what my problem was my whole season. I couldn’t get my left foot out of the back.”

The wind was blowing across the discus area, pushing most throws from right to left. Wilson felt the throw leave his hands. It went 160-7 to finish 2 inches behind regional champion Cooper Stockman of Salem.

“I kind of block out the wind,” Wilson said. “The throw, I can’t block it out in the ring. When I threw that 160 I felt it come off my fingers, I felt myself going to Columbus. I felt myself getting on the bus. It’s incredible.”

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Hubbard's Seth Jones looks after his throw during finals of Thursday's Division II Austintown Regional track and field meet.

Girard’s Daryl Smith took third (160-1) and Hubbard’s Seth Jones was fourth (158-9).

Smith, a running back and defensive lineman on the Indians’ football team, was part of the Division IV team which made this past season’s state final in Canton.

He remembers the support he had then and now, making state in two sports in one year. Smith, a Girard senior, hopes to make state out of Saturday’s regional shot put. His first discus throw of finals was 160-1, his personal best.

“It feels like the icing on the cake,” Smith said. “It’s like fluid and so smooth. Just a great feeling.”

Jones remembers the advice of his throwing coach, Matthias Tayala, spin fast and throw far.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Garfield's Sara Kittle gives a thumbs up after she qualified for state in the Division II Ausintown Regional girls shot put.

Tayala, along with McDonald and Kent State University teammate Miles Dunlap, won the 2011 Division III boys team state title for McDonald. Tayala was the NCAA hammer throw national champion in 2014 for Kent State.

Jones soaks in the advice he gets from Tayala, who tells him the easiest throw is the best throw.

Going to state, that’s a feeling unto itself for Jones, a Hubbard senior.

“I have no clue what this feeling is like,” he said. “First time I had the opportunity to go to state, and it’s the best feeling of my life.”

Garfield junior Sara Kittle didn’t think her first throw of the girls shot put was her best, just the opposite. She hit her fourth-place throw of 36-11.

“When I threw, it wasn’t going to be great,” she said. “It was going to be one of those bad days. I heard my mark. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is it.’

Kittle’s road to state had a hiccup during the indoor season. She was out three to four weeks, diagnosed with an extra heartbeat. No lifting. No throwing. She started to keep on her proteins, lifting and motivating herself. As long as her iron levels stay in check, she’s fine.

Last year, Garfield did not have any throwers at state, a rarity for the eastern Portage County school. This is the same school which produced recent state champions like Edie Svonavec and Lauren Jones.

Pfleger has podium pictures (top eight in each event in the state) of his past throwers. Wilson passed by his office this week, thinking he’s going to be up there as well.

“Dylan was in there (Wednesday),” Pfleger said. “He said. ‘I’m going to be up there. You know that?’ I said, ‘There you go man. I saved a spot for you.'”

All for a thrower who couldn’t break 100 feet two years ago.

Wilson’s goal all year was to throw 150 feet.

“I was saying, you’re going to go farther than that. To him, he thinks 150 feet is mind-boggling,” Pfleger said.

Now, Wilson is convinced he can throw 160.

“Hopefully 170 next week,” Pfleger said.