By TED RADICK
COLUMBUS — Liberty-Benton junior Chloe Miller could have been overwhelmed while throwing the discus Friday at the OHSAA state track and field championships at Jesse Owens Stadium.
After all, it was her first time at the state meet.
Miller cracked off a personal-best throw of 140-2 on her first attempt and that held up to win the Division III title.
Miller won the discus with a throw of 139-2 at the Findlay district meet two weeks ago. Her throws at last week’s Tiffin regional weren’t quite that far, but Miller had confidence, knowing what she could do when she needed it most.
“Coming in, my coaches had a lot of confidence in me and my family did, too,” she said. “That really helped. Just knowing that 139-2 was there, and knowing I have room to improve, too, that helped also.
“When I started off in the warmup, I thought, I’ve got this. That 140 came out, and it felt really good.”
Miller knew she’d hit a big throw right away, even before the distance was called out by the event officials. Like most throwers, Miller said the “feel” of a good throw is unmistakable.
“I think it starts right when you come out of the back of the circle,” she said. “Then, just that feeling of releasing the disc, you know, ‘Oh, that’s a really good one.’ That one felt like it was a good one.”
After hitting her mark so early on in the event, Miller, who threw in the first flight, had to wait through the second flight and all the attempts in the finals.
“It was very nerve-wracking,” she said. “I saw the other throws and realized, wow, this 140 could take me really far. Once I found out that I was in first going into the finals, I realized this 140 could stick and put me high up on the podium.”
On her sixth and final attempt of the day, Miller had first place locked up. She could take that last throw as a sort of victory lap.
“Before I stepped into the ring, my family was all screaming,” she said. “I just had this overwhelming happiness, knowing that I was a state champion.
“My coaches told me to just have fun, and I think that’s what I did today and that’s what helped me the most today.”
Miller becomes Liberty-Benton’s third girls discus state champion.
Alyssa Gary won for the Eagles in 2012 and Alex DeVincentis followed up with a title in 2013.
Gary, who throws for Ohio State, was working the event for the OHSAA.
“If this makes her as happy as it made me back when I won, I’ll be very glad for her,” Gary said.
Miller failed to make it out of the district meet in the shot put. That was a disappointment at the time, but it may have turned into a blessing.
“It gave us a week or two to just concentrate on the discus,” Miller said. “In my opinion, that played a huge role in the improvements I’ve been making. I didn’t have to go between shot and discus, and it allowed me to just focus on what I needed to do in the disc. I mean, I would love to be here in the shot, but this benefited me in the discus.”