AUSTIN – The career of Zada Swoopes ended with the one thing she hadn’t accomplished in three trips to the state meet.
In a field where the other competitors admitted they were fighting among themselves for second and third, the Whitewright senior set the Class 3A record in the discus throw to add another gold medal to her haul on Saturday morning at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
A throw of 164 feet set the mark previously held by Van Vleck’s Precious Thibodeaux at 154 feet, nine inches from 1997. It also represented a 30-foot gap between runner-up Madeline O’Hanlon of Pottsboro at 133 feet, 10 inches. Defending champ Shelby Lipps of Breckenridge was third at 133 feet.
Swoopes finishes her career with five total medals, including the double gold this weekend with a win in the shot put. She was the state champion in the discus in 2015 but did not qualify for state in the event last year.
“If feels great looking back on everything,” Swoopes said. “This one was more satisfying. It’s my last year, wanted to go get it all and I got it all. All my hard work and extra time I put in and the extra things I did have paid off.”
Swoopes took the lead for good on her second throw. She fouled on her first attempt and then set the tone with a toss of 148 feet, 10 inches. Her final heave of the prelims was the record-setter. Her last two attempts to better that mark went 161 feet, 10 inches and 159 feet, four inches, respectively.
“That was the most consistent I’ve been this year,” said Swoopes, who won the Region II title with the best throw in the nation this spring at 175 feet, one inch. “I took the mindset of not taking anyone for granted. Someone could put one out there. I might have a bad day.”
There was a little more drama involved when Swoopes won the Class 3A title in the shot put on Friday afternoon.
She was in second place through the first five attempts before her final attempt jumped her to the top of the podium at 44 feet, eight inches.
“It was my last one and I had to get it done. It’s a great way to finish out my senior year,” Swoopes said. “This one had some redemption to it.”
Clyde’s Monica Driscoll, who took the lead on her first throw, suddenly found herself needing a huge effort on her last attempt and came up short, settling for silver at 41 feet, eight and a quarter inches.
Those two were the clear front-runners from the second throws on. Swoopes — who had the best qualifying throw at 46 feet, which was five feet farther than Driscoll — had two of the top four throws while Driscoll had the other two. Bronze medalist Lindsey Thorpe of Boyd was the only other competitor to cross 40 feet, taking third at 40 feet, 10 and a half inches.
It was the third straight medal in the event for Swoopes after consecutive silvers.