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Lucas takes 4th place at Penn Relays
David Lucas knew it was going to be a good day at the Penn Relays after his first discus throw.
That effort, 174 feet, 4#-R inches, from the Warwick junior was a personal-best by three feet.
Ultimately, Lucas left Philadelphia last Friday with a fourth-place medal in the high school boys discus throw championships after launching a school-record heave of 180 feet, 6 inches.
It was the latest highlight from an outdoor season in which he has claimed top honors in three Invitationals &tstr; Altoona Igloo, Hempfield and Shippensburg. His finish at the Penn Relays, though, was the most rewarding.
“Without a doubt. The stage at Penn Relays is incredible,” said Lucas, who was seeded 10th in the event. “It’s hard to come across that level of competition and that big-competition experience any other time of the year except for States and Nationals. It’s an event with such rich history and such great competition, to be able to show up in my junior year and finish in fourth place and throw a PR that was over nine feet, I was very excited.”
Junior Alex McCord also competed at the Penn Relays on Saturday and cleared the bar at 6 feet, 3!-W inches, tying him for 12th place with Randall Johnson of Central Bucks South and Will Kendall of Midlothian, Va.
“I was happy with how I did coming off a hamstring injury,” McCord said. “Without being able to practice for two to three weeks was kinda rough. So I couldn’t really complain about it.”
His personal-best in the event is 6-8, which he cleared at the New Balance Games and at F&M during the indoor season. But having been slowed by his recent injury, McCord didn’t shoot for the stars at the Penn Relays.
“My goal was just to clear opening height,” he said. “I thought I made at least one good attempt (at 6-5). I was jut happy with making opening height, so it wasn’t too big of a deal not making (6-5).”
In the boys discus, Mathew Zajac, of Lynchburg, Va., won the gold medal at 200 feet, 9 inches, followed by Basil Bingham and Alec-Verne Longmore, both of Kingston Jamaica, with throws of 196-3 and 180-8, respectively.
A total of 17 throwers competed in one flight and the then the top eight advanced to the finals.
Interestingly, Lucas, at first glance, wasn’t all that pleased with where the discus landed on the first throw of the finals. In fact, he actually considered taking an intentional foul, which would have wiped out his record-breaking heave of 180-6.
Fortunately, he didn’t.
“When I saw it flying, I didn’t think it landed as far as it actually did,” Lucas said. “I stood in the circle for a few seconds and I thought, ‘No, I’ll take it.’ I walked out of the back half and the official said, ‘I think that’s an improvement.’ I looked at him in disbelief, like, ‘Seriously?’ Then as I’m walking back to get my disc, I hear them announce over the speaker, ‘55.02 meters,’ and my jaw dropped. I heard 55 and I knew where that was. The fact that I had just thrown over 180 feet, I was psyched.”
Being on a big stage such as the Penn Relays, it would be easy to think that Lucas had a lot of adrenaline throwing the discus.
The Warrior junior said he performs best when he is calm and relaxed. To help him get into that zone, Lucas mingled with the other throwers and officials.
“I was trying to get comfortable with everyone so it was less formal,” he said. “I think sometimes in these big competition settings, people get caught up in thinking, ‘I’ve got to beat you, I’m better than you, I’ve got to do this or that.’ But in reality, when everyone’s just having a good time, everyone throws better.”
Of his six throws on Friday, three represented PR’s of 174 feet and longer.
No wonder that MileSplit currently has Lucas ranked No. 5 in the nation in discus among his Class of 2015 peers. He is also No. 1 in Pennsylvania and 34th in the country regardless of graduating class.
“I try not to get too caught up in the rankings and where I am nationally,” Lucas said. “There’s something to be said about that because with it being my junior year, colleges are going to scout off of how I perform this season.”
Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 721-4451.