Daven Russell relied on a long offseason of technique reforming and his family’s biting sense of humor to become one of the most accomplished throwers at this weekend’s Utah state track meet.
The Kanab junior won the 2A shot put Saturday morning, a day after winning discus. Both were big achievements that even eclipsed his goals of placing top-three in each at BYU’s Robison Track.
“I expected to contend for both,” Russell said. “I like to compete, so I was looking forward to coming up here. But I also don’t like to assume things. I didn’t want to be cocky about anything.”
Any smugness would have been knocked out by his family, or merely by looking at last May’s state results. He finished fourth in discus (not bad for his first year, Russell would say) but suffered the indignity of not even having an official shot put attempt.
He scratched all three throws. Russell said he tried to change his technique midway through the season from a “glide” to a “spinning” form.
“I should’ve just waited until the season ended,” he said, able to summon a laugh at the thought.
He won this time by about five feet ahead of second place (49 feet, 9.75 inches).
Russell, who has already been contacted by Weber State, says he prefers the shot put a little more — mostly because he’s done it longer — but threw the discus about 19 more feet than a year ago. He ramped up his explosiveness and speed in the winter (he doesn’t play a sport in that season, following football in the fall) and also honed his spin technique.
Were there any concerns about having another “scratching” fit at state? The taboo was taken out of the situation with a steady dose of needling.
“I got over my fears,” he said. “I had the help of my family always making fun of me. That helped to make me understand it wasn’t a big deal.”
A big deal was to be had in 3A, however.
Desert Hills won the 3A title, even getting a couple of anticipated championships from Brad Wulfenstein.
“Brad was a monster this meet,” Thunder coach Dave Goulding said, pointing out he even participated on the event’s final race — the 1,600.
The senior won the 110-meter hurdles (14.39) in a field where the top three finishers were from St. George. Second place Lukas Hildebrandt of Dixie was almost a second behind. Six locals earned points in the nine-racer event.
Wulfenstein was also impossible to beat, by anyone in the state, in the 300 hurdles (38.98).
“Everyone that pointed is a big participant,” Goulding said of his team elevating from last year’s second-place finish. “We’ve talked about that all week.”
Blake Kvarfordt won the shot put and discus for Desert Hills, while Brigham Whitney strung together some solid middle-distance races.
Goulding pointed out that his team — which was 29 points better than runner-up Wasatch — took second place in every relay.
Lau Tumanuvao helped Desert Hills with a second-place finish in the javelin.
Also, Sean Halterman, a Parowan senior, was two feet better than the competition to win the 2A pole vault. He bypassed the first six heights and took his third and final try to clear 11 feet. He passed on a six-inch increase, then cleared the first attempts at both 12 feet and 12-6 before failing to clear 13 feet.
Scott Callister, a senior from Canyon View, won the 3A 400. He also took third in the 100 and 200.
Panguitch’s boys matched the girls’ team title, scoring 107 points — 13 better than Rich in 1A. Kyler Norris, Keldon Norris and Mason Orton each produced points in multiple events.