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No deja vu for Cantwell after all, as he wins his first discus state title by nearly 10 feet


JEFFERSON CITY — Even with as much fanfare as Jackson Cantwell receives everywhere he goes, the Nixa sophomore star can somewhat empathize with overshadowed teammate Hayden Mays.

Cantwell likes to describe Mays as being “criminally underrated,” and in a sense so is Cantwell himself, at least in regard to his prowess in the discus. He claimed his first state championship in the discus with a heave of 203-3 at the Class 5 State Track Meet on Friday. 

“That's possible,” Cantwell said of his success in the discus being a bit understated, given his No. 1 national standing in the shot put.

A modest two members of the media sent queries his way after his discus championship.

“Not many people talk to me for the discus,” Cantwell said. “Tomorrow, there will probably be 15 people here talking to me about the shot (put).”

Cantwell was a runner-up at State in the discus a year ago and at times Friday fretted he might have a similar finish. He didn’t officially post a distance in the finals, opting to purposely scratch while seeing his final three throws were going to fall short.

Troy Buchanon’s Zavier Winton made a run at Cantwell. Winton followed up Cantwell’s 203-3 by throwing 193-10.

Last year, Cantwell led with a 190-0, before being overtaken by Seckman’s Noa Isaia, who unleashed a throw of 194-4 on his final attempt. Isaia is now a freshman thrower at Arkansas State.

“I knew it was going to be good enough to hold (everyone) off for a while,” Cantwell said of his 203-3. “But I got a little deja vu from last year, sitting in that position with people behind me. On the sixth throw, I was getting flashbacks, thinking to myself, 'I need this to hold.' Now looking at it in hindsight, it was probably kind of stupid because that would have been a five-meter PR for anyone else. It ended up working out in the end.”

The finals actually were a bit anticlimactic. Cantwell, Winton and Mays all posted their best throws on either their second or third attempts of the prelims. Mays finished third with a 184-5.

Cantwell fed off the energy of his cohorts.

“I saw a bunch of good throws and I credit Hayden a little for getting me started,” Cantwell said. “He brings me energy. His (184-5) gave me a little (competitive) juice. I was able to get out hot.

“I knew it was going to be energetic and there were going to be a lot of great throws,” he added. “I even underestimated what it ended up being. I saw where ninth place was 49-0 (meters). Last year, there were only five guys at 49-0. It was a loaded field.” 

Having made an adjustment in how he released the disc, Cantwell was feeling strong actually even before the start of the prelims.

“I threw so well in warmups,” he said. "I probably threw the nation-lead in warmups. Obviously, no one cares about those.”

Cantwell also would have won with his second attempt, a throw of 196-8. His PR is 205-4.

“I knew it probably wouldn't hold if I stayed at (196-8),” he said. “I wanted to get as far away as I could.”

A break of 20-25 minutes between the prelims and finals robbed the throwers of energy. The finals easily could have been delayed, after lightning bolt lit up the sky.

“They already had stopped us long enough getting the finals sorted out,” Cantwell said. “I lost the momentum from the prelims. I tried to stay out of my head and throw. But I didn't have a whole lot in the tank after (the delay).”

Cantwell will go for a repeat state championship today in the shot put. Understandably, he considers the shot put his niche. But he values the discus.

"The disc is still not as natural to me as the shot put.,” Cangwell said. “But it’s cool to have a secondary event. I don’t have to depend on one thing going right.”

Mays’ 184-5 was just shot of his PR of 184-8 1/4.

“It felt good, but I didn't know it would be that good,” said Mays, who was fifth a year ago. “Going in, I was (seeded) second. I knew if I could get second or third, that would be a great feeling.”