VINTON - Samantha Holtz needed a big throw in the discus if she wanted her track and field season to continue here last Thursday afternoon.
The South Tama sophomore did just that.
Holtz tossed two big throws, the second of which won the Class 3A district meet girls discus by more than four feet. She was the Trojans lone winner and one of two individuals to qualify for the state meet this weekend in Des Moines.
South Tama’s Samantha Holtz throws the discus 119 feet in the preliminary round Thursday at the Class 3A district meet. Holtz later threw it 126 feet, 9 inches to win the event and set a new school record.
"I am incredibly proud of Sam Holtz's accomplishment of making it to state and breaking the school record," head coach Emily Chyma said. "Sam has worked incredibly hard this season and has experienced a lot of ups and downs that have frustrated her. Throwing is very technical - one day you get your foot placement correct, but then your block arm doesn't come through or your balance is off: it takes a lot of time, patience and reps to make it happen."
Holtz, who entered the meet with a personal-best throw of 111 feet, was seeded in the top eight, but near the bottom. With only the top two guaranteed a spot at state, Holtz needed a big throw.
She got her first big toss on her second throw in the preliminary round. Holtz's toss sailed over 119 feet, moving her up to second place.
In the finals, Holtz hit the jackpot. Her first throw in the final went 126, 9 inches, propelling her into first place.
"It felt like I didn't even throw it," Holtz said. "Then I heard my cousin cheering and I got excited. It was a great feeling."
Her mark of 126-9 easily stayed in the lead. The runner-up threw 122-1. Holtz's mark of 126-9 also broke the school record by more than three feet.
"I wanted to get a PR and my goal was 115," Holtz said. "I want to keep throwing higher and higher. It gave me a big boost of confidence. I was so pumped."
Chyma was thrilled for her sophomore thrower after the event.
"When that throw came out of her hands, you knew it was a beauty because it just sailed perfectly," Chyma said. "It was a great moment because Sam was so happy - it was awesome. Her cousin, Holly Myers, has been helping out both Sam and our other thrower, Kayla Dye. Holly was an All-American thrower for Coe College and she has been an amazing help for the girls. I am really proud of both Sam and Kayla because they have really improved all season."
Holtz will be throwing in the first event of the state meet. The 3A girls discus will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday.
"Oh, I'm excited," Holtz said. "I don't care how I do, I'm just glad I made it there."
South Tama will also be sending junior Kelsey Kupka to the state meet. Kupka qualified in the 800-meter run. She hung in the lead pack for nearly two laps and finished in third, running a 2:26.3, which beat fourth place by 10 seconds.
Kupka's third-place finish didn't automatically qualify her for the state meet, but it was fast enough to make the cut-off mark, which was announced Friday.
"I was ecstatic when the state cut-offs finally came in to see Kelsey Kupka's name there for her 800," Chyma said. "I knew she was going to get in because she ran such a great race. Kelsey is a wonderful leader for our team and her race really said a lot for not only her abilities as an athlete, but her character. She had been battling with an illiness and she still wasn't feeling 100 percent, but she gave it her all and she deserves to be running on the blue oval next Saturday. I am really proud of both our state qualifiers and wish them the best of luck at State."
The 800 run begins at 9:50 a.m. Saturday with Class 1A. Kupka's race should begin approximately 10 a.m.