DES MOINES - Samantha Holtz was pretty devastated about not performing well in the Class 3A girls' discus competition Thursday.
Come Friday, all was well for the South Tama County junior. Holtz bounced back with a brilliant performance in the shot put. Holtz surprised even herself by making the finals and eventually came home with a seventh-place finish following a toss of 37 feet, 4 inches.
"It helps to redeem myself. I didn't think I was going to get this. It feels good," Holtz said.
South Tama junior Samantha Holtz throws her last attempt in the shot put Friday afternoon. Holtz threw 37 feet, 4 inches in the event to finish seventh in Class 3A at the Iowa Coed State Track and Field meet at Drake Stadium.
After two moderate throws to start the day, Holtz advanced to the finals after her best throw came in the third rotation. She didn't better herself in the finals but still came away with her first career state medal.
"I'm happy because I threw better than I did at districts," Holtz said. "I was happy to improve from districts."
The Trojans' coach knew her stte medal was a big deal, especially after not throwing well in the discus Thursday.
"As coaches, we thought she had a good shot of placing yesterday in the discus," head coach George Corum said. "I thought she had a better shot of medaling in the discus than she did in the shot. But down here, you never know what can happen. All it takes is one throw and she did it on her last preliminary throw. It's too bad she scratched her last throw, because that was huge. She was pretty down after yesterday, but the key is coming back and doing your best. She is all smiles today and she has every reason to be with her hardware.
"You come down here and you never know," he added. "Hopes can be wiped out so quickly. It doesn't matter if you're running, jumping or throwing. It's just the nature of the beast. You can drop a baton or not get your foot planted right. There are so many variables. She came out of here with nearly a PR. She was close."
Holtz gained valuable experience when she threw in the discus at the Drake Relays last month. She did not have her best day in the event on Thursday but rallied in the shot put to earn a medal.
"I actually thought that she could have done well in the discus," Corum said. "She throws what she threw at districts and she is a solid medalist. But like I told her earlier, you just never know what is going to happen down here."
Holtz may have moved up even further in the standings had it not been for a scratch on her final throw. The distance on her last throw easily covered 38 feet but she had trouble staying inside the circle.
"They all told me I had nothing to lose, so I just put it all out there," Holtz said. "I couldn't stay in, I tried, but I just couldn't.
"This (seventh-place finish) will motivate me to keep lifting, pushing and practicing hard so I can come back and do even better next year. You have to be physically and mentally ready. You have to work on your mental game here. That is what I have learned the most."
Also competing on the blue oval Friday was the South Tama County distance medley team of seniors Shelby Bradley, Jade Rohach and Kelsey Kupka as well as freshman Belle Tyynismaa.
With no expectations and one of last at-large bids into state, the Trojans walked away with a 21st-place finish in a time of 4 minutes, 28.77 seconds.
"They ran well. That is close to a PR for us," Corum said. "There are three seniors on that team so going out with a flare was kind of nice. We didn't know what to expect. We came in like 22nd. Just to get down here out of our district was good. We're happy with what they did.
"Just to see those three seniors run one more time was pretty special," he said. "Then you have a freshman in the mix. It's kind of cool, because they took her under their arm and she's bonded really well with them. It's been a good experience."
The race was also a special moment for the runners.
"I was super nervous before the race," Bradley said. "After the race, I realized it was no big deal. I just had to do it, I guess. I'm definitely just glad we made it. It was a lot of fun being here."
"I like it better on a relay," Kupka said. "It's less nervous, because you're running with teammates. It was nice to go out with a PR and it was awesome to be back at the blue oval."
Rohach agreed, saying the ending was nearly perfect.
"I was really excited, but I then I got here and got really nervous," Rohach said. "It was still fun. Even if we wouldn't have PR'd, it was still a blast to come here and run. This is the best way to end my season, especially as a senior."
It is Corum's first year after serving several years as the boys coach prior to a brief retirement stint. He led the Trojans to the NICL West title this year and has South Tama County moving in the right direction.
"The kids are taking pride in saying that South Tama is in a new era," Corum said. "We have a lot of seniors this year and they are starting us off on the right foot. It is pretty special for them to do what they did this year. This is the start to getting the program back to where we want it. We have gained a lot of ground this year."
(Troy Hyde, Marshalltown Times-Republican assistant sports editor, contributed to this story.)