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PREPS: Arias shoots for 3-peat at state track

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com

Kathie Arias will have just a few things on her mind when she competes at the NIAA 3A State Track & Field Championships Friday and Saturday at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.

Consider the following:

• The Dayton High senior, who is headed to Cornell University, is the two-time defending state champion in both the shot put and discus and favored again to win this year.

• She has yet to lose this season in either event.

• She has her eyes set on setting a state- meet record in the discus. The mark is 131 feet set in 1990 by Lowry’s Tina Echeto. Arias already has a career-best of 131-9.

Arias admits there is a little bit of pressure, although some of it is self-imposed.

“I’m focused on staying undefeated,” Arias said during a recent phone interview. “I don’t remember the last time I lost. I think it was sometime last year either to Makenna Lommori in the discus or to Kennedy Hall in the shot put. It’s in my mind before I compete, but when I throw I don’t think about it. It’s not completely out of my mind all the time.”

Arias’ marks of 40-2 and 131-9 lead all 3A competitors. Fallon’s Esther Mauga is the closest in the discus at 124-5 while Elko’s Anna DuBois is Arias’ closest competition in the shot put at 39-2. The best thrower from Southern Nevada is Virgin Valley’s Rachel Morris, who has thrown 36-2 and 97-feet, respectively.

“There is a good chance that she could break the state-meet record in the discus,” Dayton head coach Mike Paul said. “She already has a better mark than the state record. Today at practice she was throwing consistently over 130 feet. I look for her to get the record.”

Don’t expect Arias to let her guard down despite being the overwhelming favorite. It’s not in her genes. She only knows one way to go, and that’s all out.

“I compete against myself a lot,” Arias said. “I was sad when I threw 128 one time because I threw 131 feet the previous week. I’m competitive with myself as well as other people, and I just like getting PRs.”

“She’s driven to excel,” said Paul, who coaches the throwers. “She has the desire to do well. She just likes it, which makes it easier. She’s very competitive and she’s self-motivated which always helps with trained athletes. The coach from Fallon told me once that if somebody threw 50, Kathie would probably throw 51.”

Arias would settle for PRs in both events. She doesn’t want to be too greedy.

“I feel I have a 42 in me,” Arias said. “It’s just waiting to come out. My goal has been 42 feet all year. If everything is perfect a 42 is bound to happen.

“I’ve been throwing 130s in practice. I should have one little jump (in distance) in me. If everything goes really well I could throw 135. I’ve been working this week on not throwing my hips out too early.”

When you think shot put or discus you conjure up images of a girl that his 5-9 or 5-10 and is built like a linebacker. Arias is so not that. She’s 5-foot-6 and has a compact build.

“I’ve been told that a lot,” Arias said. “I hear people say, ‘she’s so small.’ They expect a bigger girl. I like proving to people that shorter girls can do it too.”

“I’ve had better luck with girls Kathie’s size than with big girls,” Paul said. “She’s a good athlete. She ran on our relay teams as a freshman. She’s quick and develops a lot of power. She is extremely coordinated. She is able to make adjustments she needs to make.”

There is some question as to what event Arias is better at. Paul isn’t even sure anymore.

“I used to think shot put, but her discus has really come on,” Paul said. “She’s good at both. Her shot put is there. Her discus continues to grow.”

Arias threw 41-4, her PR, as a sophomore. She has yet to throw that this year, but has consistently throws in the 40-foot range. In the discus she has improved every year.

Arias has already been told that she’ll throw shot and discus at Cornell next year. She may even add hammer to her repertoire.

•••

Arias won’t be the only Dayton athlete making the trip south.

Also competing is Lettie Lynch (200, 800 relay), Katrina Breithaupt (1600, 3200 relay), D.J. Ply (pole vault), Ashley Vickers (long jump, triple jump), Madison Foley (high jump, triple jump), Alyse Fletcher (long jump, 400 relay), Maribel Ledezma (400 and 800 relays), Devon Cates (400 relay), Kelsey Torres (800 relay), Sara Torgerson (3200 relay), Brenda Cid (3200 relay) and Mallorie Gribble (3200 relay).

Foley is seeded fourth in the triple jump at 31-10 1/2, while Ply is fourth in the pole vault at 8-6.

On the boys side, Cameron McGifford (110 and 300 hurdles), Cody Yeater (high jump, triple jump), Manuel Castaneda (shot put, discus) and Tylor Bard (high jump) will all compete.

Yeater has a good chance to double. He’s seeded first in the high jump and third in the triple Jump. McGifford is seeded fourth in the 300 hurdles.