'Way to finish: East Coweta senior earns state AAAAA shot-put championship
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
One mighty heave is all it took for East Coweta senior Willie Holloway to redeem himself at this year's Georgia High School Association State Track and Field Championships at Memorial Stadium in Jefferson.
Holloway shattered his previous best attempt in the shot put by nearly two feet as the Indian standout closed his varsity career with a Class AAAAA state title. A year after defaulting on three stellar throws that landed out of bounds, he made true with Friday's first toss of 54 feet, 7 inches.
"It feels great," said Holloway, who was treated to a steak dinner just a few hours after capturing the school's first individual sports championship since Christian Flavin's state wrestling title in 2008. "The feeling, it was like just after the Newnan-EC (football) game."
Holloway was a big part of a 28-25 victory while starting on the defensive line last November. But Thursday's effort was all his own.
Entering with the top qualifying seed after a throw of 52-8 at the state sectionals, Holloway was the last of 16 athletes to step into the circle. After watching practice throws, the senior knew he might have to add something extra early on to put himself in the lead.
"He watched the kid from Stephenson [Amos Harper] in practice and he hit around 53 (feet)," said East Coweta coach Trace Overton. "So he said he knew he was going to have to give it his best throw early."
Which is exactly what Holloway planned. After launching his winning throw on his first attempt, none of his 15 competitors managed to come within two feet of what became a personal record for the Indian standout.
"My thought was to try and get out in the lead," Holloway said. "I tried to make my first one my best one so that I didn't have to be panicked."
Following his winning toss, however, the rest of the field tried to keep up. Dacula's Alex Armah came closest, finishing second at 52-5, while Stephenson's Harper finished third at 52-0 1/2.
"He's worked hard for this," Overton said of Holloway. "After all that happened to him last year, it's been a case of perseverance."
Holloway's championship led Thursday's local efforts in field events, with East Coweta teammate David Singleton scheduled to run today's 110-meter high hurdles in Class AAAAA preliminaries.
Northgate junior Alex Anderson barely missed scoring in the Class AAAA pole vault, placing ninth overall while clearing 12-0. Also in Class AAAA, Adrian Tolbert finished 10th in the high jump at 6-0 while unable to match a top qualifying mark of 6-4. Tolbert finished in a six-way tie among athletes that cleared the height, but placed 10th among number of attempts.
Also competing in Class AAAAA was Newnan senior Jalen Bolton in the triple jump and long jump. Bolton finished 12th in the triple jump at 42-4 3/4. Westlake's Landon Jenkins led Region 2-AAAAA qualifiers in fifth place while Newton' Malik Franklin and Stephenson senior Demarcus Sweat placed sixth and eighth, respectively.