CHARLESTON, Ill. — Even though shot put isn’t her signature event, Pittsfield’s Olivia Campbell wasn’t enamored with her fourth-place finish Thursday at the Class 1A state track and field championships.
“It just didn’t quite click like it did at sectionals,” Campbell said.
That gave her inspiration to blow away the field in her top event.
The Saukees junior was the only thrower to clear the 40-meter barrier in the discus, hitting her best throw on her first attempt and winning the state championship with a toss of 41.76 meters at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium.
“How the shot put finished definitely taught me that I really needed to get a good mark in my first throw,” Campbell said. “So that’s what I did.”
By doing so, she became the first individual state champion in the history of the Pittsfield girls track program. The Saukees had the 4x100 relay team win state championships in 1995 and ’96.
“It was a pretty big accomplishment,” Campbell said. “It just showed how much work I’ve put in over the last year after recovering from my injury. It shows what I can throw and how much farther I can go past state.
“Hopefully next year I’ll be beating the state record for discus.”
The state meet record is 51 meters, set by Carlinville’s Kelsey Card in 2010. Campbell’s personal record is 45 meters.
“It’s definitely doable,” Campbell said.
Injured last May — Campbell described it as she “messed up my whole body” — the Barry native went seven months without training full-time. She started throwing again in January and was fully healthy and ready to compete when the spring season began.
“Having that time off was a little weird,” Campbell said.
It didn’t curtail her dominance. She came into the state meet as the top-ranked thrower having posted a throw of 41.91 meters at sectionals.
“I kind of knew I would end up doing pretty well, if not taking first,” Campbell said.
Her first throw at state cleared 40 meters. She didn’t get another mark on her remaining throws.
“It just goes to show one throw is all it takes,” Campbell said.
Even so, she knows it wasn’t her best throw.
“The first throw, it felt pretty good,” Campbell said. “It was just kind of a throw to get a mark in and go from there type of thing. I definitely felt I could have thrown better today, but that’s just me being hard on myself.”
And being competitive. Campbell wants more, like a state record to go with a state title.
“That’s my goal,” she said.