While her competitors anxiously milled around the shot put
circle waiting for their turn to throw, Alcoa junior Jataya Wilson relaxed in
her camping chair nearby, smiling and talking with her teammate.
That is, until her name was called.
Wilson won the D-I small schools shot put championship Wednesday morning at the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro with a personal best throw of 40-8.25, more than four feet further than second place.
"I do get butterflies," Wilson admitted. "But I just always keep smiling. Even if I have a bad throw I just shake it off because if you let it bother you, it will continue to affect you. It's best just to move on and think about what I can learn from that and improve."
Wilson breezed through the qualifying round as the top seed, and her title-winning throw came on the first of three throws in the finals. Wilson has had a goal of breaking 40 feet all season, and knew she'd finally done it as soon as it left her hand.
"I had excitement going all through my head," said Wilson. "I honestly wanted to jump out of the circle to see, but I had to make sure I got out the correct way so I didn't scratch."
Alcoa Coach Jonathan Grissom - who coaches the throwers - said Wilson's radiant smile and infectious personality not only make her a joy to coach, but are contagious.
"She just never has a bad day," Grissom said. "I don't think I've ever seen her without a smile on her face. She has such a great outlook on everything, an honor roll student; everything she does just makes everyone around her better."
After placing fifth in the state in the shot put as a sophomore with a personal best throw of 34 feet, Wilson hopes to use the momentum from this season as she sets even loftier goals for her senior year.
"As I keep hitting my goals it just becomes muscle memory," Wilson said. "Now I can bump up my goal to 43 feet and know that I am more than capable of hitting it."
Wilson - who also plays basketball for Alcoa - plans to join an AAU track team during the summer to continue working on her throwing technique amid the busy summer basketball schedule.