Many shot put throwers fill their faces with menace, snorting and slapping their body parts during competition to pump themselves up.
Not Antonella Taylor. Instead of making an outward show, the Bowie senior focuses within.
Taylor found her inner chi before stepping into the thrower’s circle at the Montgomery Invitational on Saturday. She crouched into a tiny ball — as tiny a ball as a six-foot girl can make — before unleashing the winning toss 44 feet 8.75 inches. That effort outdid runner-up Claudia Ababio of Clarksburg by more than 21 / 2 feet.
It wasn’t anywhere near her best mark this season—Taylor threw 46-4.25 in December, the No. 1 throw in the country so far this season—but it was still better than anything any other high school girl has offered this season.
And the All-Met did it without histrionics.
“Jumping around and yelling, I really don’t see what’s the point,” said Taylor. “I tried that when I was a freshman and it doesn’t really help me. I’ve learned to do my thing.”
Taylor’s thing is often the gentlest thing. She advocates for gay youth, telling them they are OK just the way they are. She hands out food and water at breast cancer walks.
But when she steps into the thrower’s circle — well, that’s another matter altogether.
“She’s intimidating,” Ababio said of Taylor, one of the most heavily recruited throwers in the country.
More than 2,000 athletes representing 150 schools from Maryland, Virginia, the District, Pennsylvania and Delaware piled inside Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover for one of the area’s premiere meets of the season and it produced thrilling competition and some of the top times in the country.
Gwen Shaw won the 55-meter hurdles in 8.17 seconds — the Wootton senior All-Met was just .006 faster than Christine London of Howard — before capturing the 300 in a meet-record 40.39.
London Freeland won the 500 in dramatic fashion, coming from behind and diving over the line to win by .05 of a second in a personal-best 1:15.53.
The girls’ distance events weren’t nearly as close but were just as exciting. West Springfield junior All-Met Caroline Alcorta captured the mile by almost 10 seconds in 5:00.02 while Bethesda-Chevy Chase sophomore Caroline Beakes broke away late in the 3,200 to win by 11 seconds in a meet-record 10:47.28.
Oakton senior Lucas Wratschko won gold in the pole vault. He grazed the bar at 14-6 and it bounced a few times on the standards before eventually settling back in place.
Riverdale Baptist sophomore Rashad Manning was the boys’ shot put champion—but by how much was a matter of some controversy. A meet official apparently announced that he had thrown 57-7 on his fifth attempt and a volunteer posted that on the performance board. However, official results only credited Manning for a winning distance of 55-7.