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Spotlight on shot put: Cantwell ups national-best throw to 74-9 3/4


Jackson Cantwell’s sophomore season continues to play out even better than he hoped, so much so that the Nixa sophomore standout is having to set new goals.

Cantwell completed his customary sweep of the shot put and discus in Class 5 District 6 action this past weekend.

Cantwell reached the 70-0 mark in the shot put on two of his throws and for the third time this season. He won with a heave of 74-9 3/4, the best throw on the high school level in the country this season.

His previous PR had been 72-3 3/4.

“At the beginning of the year, my goal was 71-ish,” Cantwell said. “I already surpassed everything I wanted to do this season. Now, I've got to move the bar, keep trying to get better and see how good I can be in the post-season. I guess I'll have to keep practicing and see what I've got for the end of the year.

“It would be cool to do 75-plus,” he added. “I didn't think I'd get here this year. It's a testament to the work I put in and the new methods I've been doing in practice.”

Cantwell’s best throws were on his second and third attempts.

“My second throw was pretty solid,” he said. “I hit 70-0 and I hadn't hit 70-0 beside the throw I had (at Jefferson City in April). I came over and said to my Dad, 'I have more in the tank. I know I have a little more distance in me.’ I hit the third one and knew it was good as soon as it was out of my hand. But I didn't know how good.”

Cantwell was appreciative of the crowd’s loud reaction to his throws. Fans also clapped in anticipation prior to his final couple of throws.

“After the third throw, they were pretty loud. That was nice,” he said.

Nixa moved the shot put from its grass practice field to the track infield for Districts to showcase Cantwell. Eagles coaches built a new shot put ring, similar to a ring used at indoor meets, and placed it on top of the turf.

“The indoor rings are always slightly different (than outdoor rings) just because of wood and concrete. But it didn't affect my throws at all,” Cantwell said.

Nixa’s Hayden Mays finished third in the shot put with a 53-7.

Like Cantwell, he enjoyed the chance to throw in front of a much larger crowd than usual.

“There was so much energy because everyone is looking down at you from up in the stands,” Mays said. "It gave me energy. I was hyped.

“I didn't throw as far as I wanted to. But I didn't throw terrible,” he added. “I'm moving on to Sectionals, so it wasn't bad, by no means. The main thing is to qualify for State. I haven't been to State in the shot put before. That would be amazing.”

Cantwell always strives for his last throw to be his best throw. He gave it his best try, but wasn’t quite satisfied with his technique.

“I caught it with maybe one or two of my fingers,” he said. “Usually, you want to release it with your whole hand. That means I went a little too fast. I was trying to basically swing for the fences and popped it straight up.”

Looking ahead, Cantwell wonders if he may try to be just a tad more aggressive in pushing toward the absolute limits of the boundaries within the ring.

“The only scratches I usually have are intentional ones,” he said. 
“If I see a throw that is below what I want, sometimes I will go out and step on the toe board. I probably should foul on more throws. Sometimes, it costs me a little that I start out a competition too easy, honestly.”

In the discus, Cantwell and Mays finished 1-2. Cantwell won with a 179-1, while Mays was at 173-4.