COLUMBUS, N.J. — Here’s how high Alyssa Wilson has set the bar for herself and every other high school thrower in New Jersey: The Donovan Catholic (Toms River, N.J.) track star won the girls shot put and discus at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions Saturday, setting the meet record in the latter, and she was kind of bummed about it.
The senior’s discus throw of 168 feet, 1 inch broke the old standard of 161-1, set by Cherokee’s Jess Woodard in 2013. It was 25 feet farther than the next-closest competitor.
“I’m not really happy with that throw,” she said.
In the shot put, Wilson’s distance if 54-0.25 was nearly seven feet farther than the runner-up toss of 47-3.75 by Jackson Liberty senior Danielle Notarfrancesco.
“That was OK,” Wilson said.
Those responses are a glimpse into how Wilson became the best high school thrower in Garden State history, girls or boys.
“As a coach, you want that,” Donovan Catholic head coach Ken Oliver said. “Sometimes she’s disappointed because she put so much into it. But she’s just that level of an athlete, like Sydney McLaughlin. That’s what they expect.”
Union Catholic’s McLaughlin, who is the state’s only track athlete with a better resume — she represented the U.S. in the Rio Olympics as a hurdler — won both of her races in the meet’s other eagerly anticipated farewell performance.
Wilson, who is headed to UCLA in the fall, exits the Jersey stage with six Meet of Champions gold medals — three in the shot put, three in the discus. She owns the national record in the shot (57-1.25), the state record in the discus (182-0) and the MOC records in both events. She will compete two more times, in the outdoor nationals next weekend and the junior nationals after that.
“It’s been great, looking back at the season and how I was able to come in here and defend my titles,” Wilson said. “It’s been a great, long ride of four years. I’m happy with all of my accomplishments.”
It’s a testament to her star power that the throwing areas were packed to the gills with spectators, hundreds of them. Many came to see her throw, just to be able to say they did.
“It’s nice that we were able to get a big crowd out there,” she said. “On my first throw, my hands were actually shaking. I was like, ‘What’s going on with that?’”
She settled down and proceeded to demolish the competition, as usual.
“She’s meant everything to our school and our track program,” Oliver said. “She’s the best athlete we’ve ever had in the school, and the way she went about everything was so impressive — she was hard-working, humble, a good student and a great teammate.”
Wilson called her Garden State finale “kind of bittersweet” and credited Donovan Catholic with welcoming her and helping her grow.
“It’s been a great ride with them, and my parents and coaches too,” the Jackson resident said.
So how long will her records last? The throwing distances have exploded in the state over the past few years, and not just with Wilson.
“Records are made to be broken, but I think this is a generational thing,” Oliver said. “We’ve seen so many good throws over the last few years — the level has gone way up, and Alyssa has everything to do with that.”
He paused, smiled and added, “I wish we had another four years.”