Earlier this month at the Wesco 4A Championships, Arlington senior Dan Boyden uncorked a personal-best mark of 58-feet, 51/2 inches to win the title and set a meet record.
A week later, Boyden had to settle for third in the same event behind two Wesco competitors, Lynnwood’s Andrew Basham and Lake Stevens’ Carey Campbell, at the Wesco/Kingco 4A Bi-District championships.
Welcome to the life of a Wesco shot putter in 2013.
When the boys shot put is contested this afternoon on the first day of the Class 4A state meet, there’s a very real chance a Wesco thrower will win. Which thrower that is, however, is anybody’s guess.
Cody O’Connell of Wenatchee High School has the state’s top mark in the event at 62 feet, 1-inch, but the next three on the 4A list are Campbell (58-73/4), Boyden (58-51/2) and Basham (57-10). Not far behind, ranking sixth at the 4A level, is Edmonds-Woodway’s Wyatt Meyring, who has topped out this year at 56-6. Edmonds-Woodway’s Marco Hernandez also qualified for state, making it a Wesco sweep at the Bi-District meet.
And yes, if O’Connell, a WSU football recruit who checks in at 6-foot-8, 350 pounds, throws to his potential, he’ll be tough to beat. However, if he’s even a little off of his game, any number of Wesco throwers could take the title.
“It’s incredible how good it is,” Boyden said. “I’ve been following track since I was a little kid and helping out at track meets, and I’ve never heard of a league being so good in one event.”
How today’s competition will play out is a mystery, but what is evident when you talk to any of the area’s top throwers is that none of them would be where they are without the competition provided by the others.
“The competition definitely pushes us a lot,” Meyring said. “There’s a lot of rivalry with it, too. I’ve been up against these guys for three years now, so it’s almost like we’re family, but we’re still big competitors in the shot put.”
The longtime friendly rivals
When Lake Stevens coach Jeff Page first saw Campbell throw, he knew he had something special to work with. But then he took a look at what was going on at Arlington, where Boyden was also a freshman.
“When Carey was a freshman, we thought, ‘Oh man, we’ve got this great freshman shot putter,’” Page said. “And then we looked at the results and said, ‘Oh, Arlington’s got one, too.’”
While Meyring was a bit of a late bloomer, and Basham was competing at the 3A level before this year, Boyden and Campbell had been battling in the shot put for four years. Boyden got the better of Campbell for most of their first two years, then Campbell started catching up, and now the competition is too close to call on any given day.
“All throughout high school, me and him have had a competition,” said Campbell, who finished third at state last year, making him the top non-senior finisher. “When we were freshman, other people would beat us, but I’d always try to beat him and he’d always try to beat me. It has gone in cycles.”
Through years of competition, Campbell and Boyden have become friends and they will be teammates on the track team at the University of Washington next year. However, once today’s meet starts, both agree the desire to win takes over, and if either wins a state title, he’ll owe at least some of the credit to the other one.
“It’s made me way better,” said Boyden, who is also one of the state’s top discus throwers. “There’s no way I’d be a 58-foot shot putter without him. Without him, there wouldn’t be as much of a need to get better. It’s always in the back of my mind that I have to get better to beat him next week.”
The champ moves up
At this time a year ago, Basham was on his way to a state title at the Class 3A meet. This year he knows another title will be much harder to come by after the Royals’ jump up in classification.
But that suits Basham, a UW football recruit, just fine. Even if it means a lesser medal at state, Basham would prefer to face a higher level of competition in his senior season.
“It’s been great stepping up,” he said. “It’s better. I don’t think I would have been pushed much in 3A, but I’m getting pushed a lot in 4A.”
That does not, however, mean Basham doesn’t have his eye on a title. His top mark this year trails O’Connell, Campbell and Boyden, but Basham beat Campbell and Boyden at their most recent meet. Basham and his coach both note he’s thrown more than 60 feet in practice and in meet warmups. He also has taken on a lighter workload than a lot of his fellow throwers this year in order to be fresh this week.
“Me and Andrew’s goal this whole year was to win state, so I made the decision not to throw him in every meet, because I wanted him to be at his best at state,” Lynnwood throws coach Mike Davis said. “We both don’t feel like he’s had his best throw yet. He’s been throwing over 60 in practice, but we haven’t translated that into a meet. Sometimes that’s the tough part.”
A year ago, Meyring maxed out at 47-01/2 in the shot put. So, it’s pretty remarkable that the Edmonds-Woodway senior is now among the state’s best. He knows it will take a very good day to top his fellow Wesco throwers, but he isn’t about to give up without a fight.
“When I go against them, I usually think, ‘I’ve had throws like they’ve had before,’” Meyring said. “… I almost upset Carey Campbell last week, so if I have a good day and they’re not quite on their game, I can get them. I definitely have the potential to do it. I’ve worked so hard this season. Time will tell.”
If there’s a common theme that explains Meyring’s leap forward this season and the success of all of these Wesco throwers, it’s the competition they have provided each other over the years.
“When you know you have guys at that level in your own league, that’s huge, because you don’t want to go out there and have them stomp all over you,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Rick Fillman said. “That was a big motivator. (Meyring) would want to do well anyway, he’d work hard anyways — state was always his goal. But knowing that he’s got people like that in his own league, it’s a huge, huge motivator to go out, work hard and say, ‘you know what? I can do that, too.’”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.