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LOUISVILLE - Bullitt East junior Jackie Stevens was such a big favorite to bring home two titles from Friday’s Kentucky State Track and Field Championships that it put added pressure on her to live up to the high expectations.
Just put it down as mission accomplished.
Stevens won both the girls’ Class AA discus and the shot put at the University of Louisville, giving Bullitt East its first state track titles since 1988. The junior had top three finishes in both events last season.
What made Stevens just as happy as the state championships was the fact that teammate Lindey Young finished second in the shot put. That is the first time Bullitt County athletes have ever gone one-two in the state meet.
“I feel great,” Stevens said after getting her medal for winning the discus. “This is one of the best feelings in the world.”
In the shot put, Stevens came in with the best throw from the regionals and was the obvious favorite. Young had the fourth best throw coming in and was positive she could beat everyone in the field with the exception of her teammate.
“I’m happy, very happy,” Young said. “My goal was to get second so I met my goal. Jackie is a good athlete. I knew she would win. It’s an awesome feeling being second at state.”
Stevens won with a throw of 37-09.50, just a foot short of her best effort of the season.
Both Young and third-place finisher Chelsea Craig of Franklin County had throws of 32-06.50. Young got the second place nod with a better second throw of 32-04.75 to 31-09 for Craig.
“My goal was 33-feet,” Young said. “I didn’t completely get it, but I’ll do it next year.”
The day actually started with the discus and then continued with the shot put.
Coming off the regional throws in the discus, Stevens had a 17-foot advantage on the field. Her second throw of the day went 106-feet and that pretty much trumped the field right there. Stevens continued to throw and finished with a best of 111-05, just short of her personal best. Runner-up Denisha Nichols of Elizabethtown could do no better than 100-03.
The early big throw made it a much easier day for Stevens.
“I slept last night, but I was really nervous,” she said. “Both last night and this morning.”
Stevens was new to track and the state championships last year. The experience factor helped this year.
“Last year I was a lot more nervous,” she said. “I knew what to expect this year. But there was more pressure being the favorite. I didn’t want to mess-up. That put a lot of pressure on me.”
“I think that Jackie knew that she (only) had to do what she had already done this year,” Bullitt East track coach Lenny Raley said. “She said that she did not fell any more pressure to win state than what she had felt in performing at other meets. She knew she had to do what she already had done and the results would be fine.”
The shot put victory was the first state championship for Bullitt East in that event. The Lady Chargers’ Andy Anthony won a state discus title in the mid-1980s. Anthony still owns the school record at 118-feet.
Stevens already has the school record in the shot put.
“My goal today was 120-feet, but I didn’t get there,” Stevens said. “Now that can be the goal for next year. I should get it. I want that record too.”
There is a relationship in this group of athletes. Stevens’ mother played softball with Anthony while Young’s mother, Carla (Coffey) Young ran track and played basketball with Anthony. Anthony and Coffey both played on the Kentucky All-Star basketball team that played Indiana after their senior year at Bullitt East.
Young’s mother ran in the state track meet twice in the middle distance events, but couldn’t quite get up to second place, posting a best of third in the 800-meters her junior year.
Both girls think it is an advantage having each other to train with and to go into competitions together.
“It’s always better having emotional support,” Young said. “It gets us pumped up. We know how important it is to each other.”
Both girls will spend a lot of time this summer with the Lady Charger basketball team so track will take a backseat. Stevens has also been selected to the Governor’s Scholar program this summer.