MEXICO — Mexico’s Reatha von Holtz has upped the ante on her ability to compete in shot put.
Just a sophomore at Mexico High School, von Holtz will be competing at the state track championships for the first time this weekend.
“I think it’s crazy,” she said. “Starting off my season, I was only throwing about 29’. Our goal was 32’, but to pull over a 35’ (at the state qualifier) is awesome.”
After a regular season where she got progressively better at every meet and invitational, von Holtz became dominant in the postseason.
At the Section III Class B-1 Meet, she threw a distance of 34’ 4.5” on her last attempt to capture a sectional title.
She impressed even more at the Section III state qualifier last Friday, throwing a distance of 35’ 6.75” to receive her automatic bid to states.
“She’s worked hard the past week and a half,” Mexico girls track coach Martin Charles said. “She really clicked.”
The bulk of the week-and-a-half Charles mentioned happened during Mexico’s long Memorial Day weekend.
Charles and von Holtz took advantage of some quality practice time that weekend, as they worked toward her reaching a peak in the shot put.
Von Holtz hit a personal best (35’ 1”) at practice, prompting Charles to end practice.
“We stopped right there and I told her to remember that feeling,” Charles said.
Sure enough at the state qualifier, the number 35 was the key to von Holtz’s success.
“I was confident (she could throw 35’). I think she was, but she hides it well,” Charles said.
In order to begin throwing the mid-30s — and possibly better than that — von Holtz has been throwing a 16-pound shot put instead of an 8-pounder. The 16-pounder is the same one male college athletes use in competition.
“The doubled-weight of shot put has helped me with my strength in throwing,” von Holtz said.
Out of the six throws von Holtz had at the state qualifier, she threw over 35’ three times and around 34’ twice.
“She threw consistently, and that’s what did it for her to move on to states,” Charles said.
Von Holtz is the seventh seed in Division II shot put at states. Maryam Akaic of Tapestry Charter School (Section VI) is the top seed with a mark of 40’ 3.5”.
Seeds two through five have their best mark between 36’ and 38’.
“I’m a little bit nervous,” von Holtz said. “I know there are some awesome girls that will be there. Hopefully I’ll be able to stick with the top-10 seed I have.”
Charles said, “She’s nervous. It’s hard to really tell though because she’s a 10th grader. If she can shake off the nerves, she’ll do well (at states).”
Charles believes von Holtz can throw better than her seed mark, which could be enough to bring home a state medal.
“She has a good chance to get on the podium (at states),” he said. “If she throws a 36’, she can easily be top five.”
A slight change in von Holtz’s technique may be an advantage for her, giving her a chance to throw farther than she ever has before.
The ultimate goal for the sophomore is to be confident in the throwing circle.
“I started a new glide two days prior to the state qualifier,” von Holtz said. “I feel like I’ve got that down a little bit better. Hopefully that’ll improve me at states.”
If she doesn’t win a medal at state competition this year, there will be two more years of throwing for her at Mexico, and perhaps more chances at states.
Nonetheless, Charles thinks she hasn’t fully peaked.
“We haven’t reached her fullest potential yet,” he said. “I think she can throw 40’ down the road.”