Joshua Haghighi of Wheatley Heights may have had the state meet’s longest throw, but when it came to the competition that New York shot put enthusiasts wanted to see, Riverhead’s Mike Smith beat him.
It was Haghighi who, in March, ended Smith’s hopes of repeating as the indoor federation champion. And after winning the state Division II shot put championship in Vestal on Friday with a throw of 60 feet 6 inches, it seemed as though Haghighi might prevent Smith from repeating as the outdoor federation champion as well.
While Haghighi was busy sewing up the Division II state title, Smith won the Division I championship with a Riverhead High School record throw of 58-5 1/2, beating his closest competition, Sean Harvey of Lancaster, by more than a foot.
On Saturday, Riverhead Coach Steve Gevinski said, it was Smith who set the tone.
“He’s unbelievable,” Gevinski said of Smith. “He’s been good down the stretch. He’s a clutch performer. That’s one thing you can say about him. He never tightens up. He never feels pressure.”
On his first throw of the federation championships on Saturday, Smith set another school record, erasing the mark he had set the day before. The new standard is 58-8 1/4.
Nearly immediately, Smith had shifted the burden of pressure onto his competition.
Shane Smith of Fonda had a long throw of 58-6 1/2, and Breiten Balschmiter of Newark had an attempt land at 58-4 1/4. Close as they came, they could not overcome Smith, who repeated as the federation champion.
Highaghi could not match him either, fouling on his first two throws before picking up a throw of 54-8 3/4 on his final attempt. That was good enough for fourth place.
“To take my state title back, and federation, I think that was the best part out of all that excitement at states,” Smith said.
It was a hot and humid day, not the most ideal conditions in which to attempt to set a state record, which is the other accomplishment Smith wanted to achieve while in Vestal. “It felt like the sun was draining me,” he said.
But Smith did not blame the weather for the fact that he did not get a throw past 60 feet. He did say that he is becoming more confident that he can do it in one of the two remaining meets in his high school career.
He has another goal in mind as well, and that is to annihilate his current school record for the discus. The mark, which already belongs to Smith, stands at 161-9, a distance he threw early this season.
The Division I discus championship was the first event for Smith on Friday. He had one good throw of the three he made, but, Gevinski said, it sailed wide of the vector lines and was not counted. Another left his hand at a disadvantageous angle and the third traveled 146-2, leaving him in 13th place and failing to qualify for the federation championships.
“I think it got him a little mad and gave him some motivation, like: ‘Hey, I’ve got to get it done in the shot after what happened in the discus,’ ” Gevinski said.
Not only did it motivate Smith in the shot put, it also has him set on 170 feet for the event. “I think I’m just going to have to work harder,” Smith said, “hit the weights harder, stretch longer and it’ll all come. I feel like in the end, it’ll all come into place.”