Girls' varsity team attracts new shot putters

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Mar. 23, 2012
Senior shot-putter Akia Leach during the opening days of practice for outdoor track season. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Senior shot-putter Akia Leach during the opening days of practice for outdoor track season. Photos by Frances Taylor.

When it comes to track and field, sometimes it’s those who run the track who get the most attention. But members of the East Hartford girls' varsity team say those who throw the shot put and javelin are just as important as those who can jump over hurdles.

“That's why the sport is called 'track and field,'” said Jamie Paul, who is her second year with the team. “We're the field part.”

“I'm not a runner, but I am a member of the track team,” said Thalia Salmon, who is in her second year with the team. Shot put is her favorite event, she said. “It’s what track and field is all about,” she added.

Akia Leach, a senior shot-putter who placed sixth in the state finals last year, said she and others have been doing their own recruiting in an effort to interest classmates in the sport. “I tell people, ‘If you don't have a sport, you should come out and try it. It’s fun, and you don't have to be a runner to be on the track team,’” she said. Leach also throws the javelin and the discus. “It’s a good way to get rid of tension, get all your aggression out,” she said. “You just pick up that ball and throw it.”

A small number of students have turned out this season with an interest in throwing rather than running. “We've seen a good turnout overall,” said coach Aj LaPlant, who coaches the girls' team. “We're a young team this season. Of the 40 who have turned out, 15 to 20 of them are freshmen,” The team finished 2-9 last year, LaPlant said, with several players participating in the state championships.

The team was holding its third practice last week on a recent unseasonably warm day. “It’s early right now, so we'll see how things go,” LaPlant said. “What people should know is that there is something for everyone in track. It's about competing against other people, and also yourself. It's all about you and the stop-watch or the measuring tape.”


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