Weston won silver in the high jump and long jump on the first day of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference track and field championships. He even set a league record in high jump clearing 6 feet.He looked at his coaches and said, “I have to win triple.”
“I was happy where I placed in the other two, considering I got second place in a conference in my first year,” Weston said. “But I felt like I could’ve won.” Last Saturday, he planned to give his all into his last two events. When he rose from his triple jump with a leap of 40 feet, 5 1/2 inches, he learned he'd struck gold.
Weston has always been a basketball player. The Indian Creek senior intended to walk on at Virginia Commonwealth University because he couldn’t give up basketball, not for anything.
Then, track and field entered his life and success rolled in.
“It’s one of the most rewarding parts of coaching, to see their faces light up when they realize they found something they’re really good at,” Eagles coach Casey Corkin said, “that they might not have even thought of trying.”
Weston isn’t the only one. Anna Crum and Madison Yates tried the sport for the first time as seniors this spring just to place top two in shot put this past weekend — Yates with gold (31-9) and Crum with silver (28-11 1/4) in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference finals.
Crum and Yates were recruited by one of their volleyball coaches, Taylor Kroll, to join the team. Outdoor track is only in its second season as a varsity sport at the school and was in search of greater numbers. The girls roster jumped from three in the first year to 14 this year.
Yates joined mainly to stay in shape for prom. She picked field events because of Kroll. Nerves coursed through her. “I’m not prepared,” rattled around her mind, countered by, “calm down.” The soothing thought won, and Yates did it. And she kept doing it.
“I was like, this is a lot of work just for prom,” Yates said. “But I got to enjoy it. I was doing it with my friends. I made the best out of it. I started doing events because I liked doing them, not just because I was getting in shape.”
Crum knew agreeing to do track and field was a little crazy. She competed in water polo for a decade before she entered the US pipeline a few years ago and was selected to play in the USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program National Championships in March. She also plays rugby and played for the Eagles’ junior varsity tennis team this spring, too.
“I have so many movements in my head that it’s weird when I’m doing it,” Crum said. “Sometimes I forget which one I’m supposed to do.”
At first, Crum relied on brute strength for shot put and discus, which all her upper-body-heavy sports granted her. When her coach showed her and Yates videos of Olympians in action, the two started to admire the footwork, hip movement and more advanced techniques they hadn’t realized existed.
But by the last two weeks of the regular season, Crum’s reliance on her physical power transitioned into skill. And then, she broke her hand.
“I was like, are you kidding? I’m finally understanding what I’m doing,” she said. But Crum didn’t give up.
Crum practiced her throws before her turn in shot put on Day 1. A few athletes from another team praised her distance. “And my coach Kareem [Reed], he goes, ‘Yeah, and guess what? She’s got a broken hand!’ and I literally walked away because they just looked at me and said, ‘Oh,’” Crum said, laughing.
The broken hand did spoil Crum’s shot at gold in the discus. She was seeded third but finished ninth. In shot put, Crum surpassed more experienced athletes with her silver placement, beaten only, of course, by her own teammate.
On Yates’ first try, she set a personal record. She’d been drilling it for weeks to nail down her form.
“It was crazy, how far I’d come. It was pretty cool,” she said.
Like the girls, Weston found his previous sport’s running and jumping translated seamlessly into this new one. It was the mindset that was different. There were no teammates to look for, no plays to set up. It was easier for him, he said. He felt comfortable taking full responsibility for himself, because if he didn’t put 100% of himself in, there would be no one else to blame.
The winning felt different, too.
“Winning these felt like a surprise to me, like, this is my first year. I didn’t know I could do this,” he said. “It motivated me to keep wanting to push myself.”
Weston still plans to walk on at VCU, but Corkin said there’s a good chance he may get a spot for track, now. They’re working on it.
“That’s crazy,” Weston said.
Junior Frederick McCuiston joined his Eagles on the leaderboard with a silver in the 400 meters (50.85).
This article was originally published in the Capital Gazette on