“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”
Canyon senior Jacob Lopez repeated that mantra out loud before stepping up for a throw in the Foothill League varsity boys discus championship at Hart High School on Wednesday.
While he finished in second place in the discus competition, he captured the league title in the varsity boys shot put with a mark of 58 feet and five inches.
“When you try to rush out of the back it kind of messes up your throw and you just freak out and it just messes up your entire technique,” Lopez said. “It’s what my brother taught me when he was in the military, talking about his movements. When something is smooth, you’re confident and everything goes into line. Your body position is perfect and it just goes fast, that’s how it works.”
Lopez recorded a 162-9 1/2 in the discus throw but was bested by Golden Valley’s Kienan Donovan, who recorded a personal record of 168-6 to win the league title.
“I knew it was coming. He’s been practicing hard and he’s been throwing them in practice, he just needed to do it when it counted and he did,” Golden Valley throws coach Kyle Donovan said about Kienan’s winning throw.
The sophomore also took second place in shot put with a mark of 55-4 1/2.
Lopez, who was on the same team with Kienan in his youth days and was coached by the elder Donovan, believes the young thrower is on the verge of breaking out nationally.
“He’ll be No. 1 in the nation I think in the next two years, he’ll be up there. Right now he’s 162 in weight, name one kid that’s 162 that’s throwing that far,” Lopez said. “He’ll be pound-for-pound one of the best throwers in the nation I think. He’ll be on the front covers of everything, I think he’s going to be something great.”
Gaetano Ferrera of Saugus finished in third place in the discus throw with a score of 154-6. The top three throwers in the discus all advance to the CIF Southern Section prelims on May 4. Lopez and Donovan will compete at the Division 2 prelims at Moorpark High School, while Ferrera will travel to Trabuco Hills High School for Division 1 prelims.
Bryce Valles finished third in the boys shot put with a PR of 54-1/2 and Noah Bultman finished fourth with a PR of 53-7 1/2 for West Ranch. Both will advance to the CIF-SS prelims along with Ferrera at Trabuco Hills High School.
Canyon junior Justin Willingham will also advance to the CIF-SS prelims in shot put, obliterating his previous PR of 46-7 1/2 with a score of 50-10, making the cut by one inch.
In all, six Foothill League boys throwers will compete in shot put at CIF-SS prelims.
For the girls, West Ranch’s Natalie Ramirez continued her season-long dominance, taking the title in the varsity girls discus with a throw of 148-6 1/2. She took second place in the girls shot put with a score of 46.
“I was feeling like I wanted to do enough to get in, obviously my goal is at state,” said Ramirez, who currently ranks sixth in the country in both discus and shot put. “I figured I’d come out here and have a great time at my league meet. It’s an amazing feeling, I’m really excited the way it went.”
Golden Valley’s Shyann Franklin finished second in the girls discus with a throw of 127-5, but shined in the girls shot put with a mark of 47-11 1/2 to win the league title.
The score shattered her personal record of 46-5 1/2 and also catapulted her to the No. 1 spot in the country in shot put.
“I’m extremely proud. They all really brought it today,” Donovan said about his Grizzlies throwers. “They’ve been practicing hard in the weight room all week. I’m just extremely proud of all of them.”
Kalya Medof of Saugus finished in third in the girls discus (106-5 1/2) and will also advance to CIF-SS prelims. Franklin will compete at Moorpark High School, while Ramirez and Medof will travel to Trabuco Hills High School.
Even more impressive than the finals results was the togetherness displayed by all the athletes and coaches.
Franklin cheered on Ramirez on every throw, and vice versa. No one was happier when Donovan won the discus event than Lopez. Every coach was cheering on every athlete, it didn’t matter what school they belonged to.
Ramirez and Lopez both used the same word when describing the Foothill League track and field community: “beautiful.”
“I couldn’t have competed in any other league. This community is a family honestly, it’s just amazing to be a part of,” Ramirez said. “It’s all fun and I think especially after league is over it’s going to be more about cheering on the Foothill League than cheering on any particular school. That’s our ideology, that’s what we try to enforce. It’s beautiful.”
“It’s something that’s beautiful. It’s pure competition,” Lopez said. “We’ve been throwing together, Kienan, Natalie, Noah, Bryce, all of us. I started throwing with them in my seventh-grade year. Our goal is to always support one another, it doesn’t matter what our colors are, it’s family, that’s how it is.”