Bypassing hurdles

Aberdeen senior Shannel Shivers has mastered the techniques to be among the best on the field in the shot put and discus

Track And Field

May 27, 2007|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

Shannel Shivers first came to an Aberdeen track and field practice in the eighth grade. She wanted to get a feel for becoming a high school hurdler, but she got off to a bad start.

Shivers crashed into the first hurdle and fell during an early drill. She couldn't make it over any of the hurdles in that drill. That experience was the main reason she skipped the sport the following spring, but Aberdeen coaches convinced her to try again.

The only difference in 10th grade was that Shivers didn't need to come anywhere near the hurdles. Aberdeen's coaches persuaded her to try the shot put and discus instead.

It proved to be a wise move, as Shivers has grown into one of the state's best competitors in both events.

Shivers started working hard on shot put and discus as a sophomore and made an immediate impact. She won the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference championship in the shot put as a sophomore and then captured the Class 3A state title in the event last year. She also finished second in the state in the discus last season after capturing the UCBAC and East regional titles in both events.

The senior then won the shot put and discus in every Aberdeen meet this year until Long Reach's Alyce Harrell nipped Shivers in the East regional discus competition. Harrell's throw was 121 feet, 10.5 inches, while Shivers came in at 120.

Shivers then beat Harrell in discus in the Class 3A state title meet Friday night with a toss of 123-8. Harrell's throw was 118-5. The shot put event was scheduled for yesterday's state meet.

"I never thought anything like this would happen," Shivers said. "There could be people out there who could beat me. I just try to do my best."

Shivers' performance in both events are among the top five in the state in both public and private schools this spring, according to "She's the type of athlete a coach dreams about," said Lee Surkin, the Aberdeen boys and shot put coach. "She's one of those athletes you wish you had more of."

Surkin was impressed by something he saw from Shivers at an early season meet at Kent Island. Shivers had little trouble winning the shot put and discus, and after the competition was completed, some of the girls she went against asked for her help.

"They were in awe of what she could do," Surkin said. "After the throwing events ended, she talked to some of the girls and they asked her how to do it, and she [showed them] right away. She's very humble, and we love having her that way."

The conversion of Shivers into a shot put and discus competitor seemed surprising at first.

Shivers, 5 feet 10 and lean, was known for her quickness and agility in basketball and volleyball. She was an All-County pick as a guard-forward in basketball who had little trouble blowing past defenders and finding open jump shots at will.

Athletes who compete in shot put and discus often are more compactly built. Still, Aberdeen coach John Mobley and other assistants met with Shivers and her father after a basketball practice two years ago to talk about the possible change.

Jeffrey Shivers had competed in the hurdles and the high, long and triple jumps for Havre de Grace when he was in high school. He also thought his daughter could find success in the shot put and discus based upon her athletic ability and success in other sports.

"Basically, I [felt it would] be good to get her on the track team, and then she could move around and find a niche," he said.

Mobley has never talked with Shivers about why she didn't come out for the team as a freshman. He just wanted her to join the squad.

"I knew, as talented as she is, that she could help us somewhere on the track," Mobley said. Shivers also showed her talent by regularly running on the 1,600-meter relay last year, but she stopped that this spring to concentrate solely on the shot put and discus for the Eagles.

"You don't have to be really strong or anything for the [discus and shot]," Shivers said. "If you've got the technique down, you'll be successful."

The hard work has paid off. Even though Shivers doesn't do any track and field work except during the spring season, she'll go to Cecil Community College next year before heading to Towson University in the fall of 2008 to compete in track and field.

"I am glad that I went back to track," Shivers said. "But, most definitely, I'm glad I'm not a hurdler."

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