Daryl Smith decided a year ago that he wanted to end his high schoolathletic career with a state championship.
The C. Milton Wright senior nearly saw his dream come true last fall when the Mustangs wentundefeated into the state football championship. But when the Mustangs lost that title game, Smith, an All-Metro lineman, had one shot left.
So he set his sights on a state shot put title. Last year, in hisfirst track season, Smith won the bronze medal at the state championships.
Through most of this season, he had the third-longest throwin the Metro area, 52 feet, 11 inches. Smith was pretty sure that would be enough to win the 3A state title.
He was right.
But Thursday at the State Track and Field Championships at Western Maryland College, Smith threw even further. He finished off his high school days -- and probably his track days -- with his best toss ever, 53-6 1/2. That set a new school record.
"It's a great feeling," said Smith. "It's not as good as winning states in football, but it's up there.
"At the beginning of the year, I knew the boy who beat me was gone and the second boy threw 49 last year. Coach said I would have to throw 53 feet to win. I did, but I didn't have to."
In fact, Smith's first toss of 51-1 would have been good enough to take the gold. Second-place John Seymour, of Linganore High, threw 50-6 1/2. Mustang sophomore Ron Paden was sixth with a 45-1 toss.
Smith told Mustangscoach Jim McNicholas all along that he would win. In fact he even bet on it. McNicholas will have to pay off with a pair of Mustangs shorts.
"He was so confident coming here he was going win judging fromlast year, and I think that helped him," said McNicholas, who talkedSmith into coming out for the team last year. "But I told him everybody's got their football players out there, so you never know who's going to be out there who can beat you."
Smith said his throwing improved last year right before the state meet when assistant coach Jerry Lee taught him the glide technique. His style isn't as unorthodox as it used to be, but Smith still just punches the shot, putting all the strength in his 6-foot, 270-pound frame into every toss.
"If he worked with the spin, he could get another 3 or 4 inches," said McNicholas, "but with the spin, there's a stronger possibility of scratching across the circle. What he's done has worked fine for him."
McNicholas said Smith has the talent to compete in college, but the athlete said his track days are probably behind him.
At Central State University in Ohio, where Smith received a full ride for football, there won't be time for track.
Smith will focus on football now. On July 27, he will represent his school in the Big 33 game in Hershey, Pa. Smith and Aberdeen's Byron Turner will be the only Harford County players in the all-star game, which pits the best Maryland playersagainst the best from Pennsylvania.
Smith was the only Harford County winner in Thursday's opening day of the three-day state track meet. Only the Mustangs and Bel Air competed on the first day, which decided half of the titles in Class 3A and 4A.
(The meet was to conclude yesterday, past the Harford County Sun's press time.)
The Mustangs picked up top-six finishes in five events besides the shot put.
Stacy Servia was so busy talking to a friend that she nearly missed the starting gun for the 3,200 meter run, but she ended up finishing second. Her time of 12 minutes, 15.30 seconds was her personal best.
The Mustang girls also had two top-six finishes in the relays after sweeping them in the regionals.
Jen Willey, Kris Sprucebank, Lauren Davis and Jen Catlin were sixth in the 3,200 meter relay in 10:26.40. Amanda Boch, Stephanie Rivas, Amanda Fouts and Dina Lastner were fifth in the 800-meter relay in 1:48.90.
In the boys long jump, Chris Gill was fifth with a 20-9 3/4. Gary Sprucebank finished fourth in the high jump with a leap of 6 feet.