Her shot put is best in U.S.; 400 relay team also medals
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Just when you think Sophia Rivera is running out of challenges to conquer, she finds another challenge — and conquers it.
Rivera, a junior at Brentwood High School, went to the Class 2 State Track and Field Championships this past weekend already having won both of her events as a freshman and as a sophomore. With two first-place medals in the shot put and two in the discus throw, she was making state titles look routine even before this season started.
But on Saturday she raised the bar. She not only won the shot put for the third year but did it with a jaw-dropping attempt that set the all-time meet record for all classes and is the best high school put in the U.S. this season.
Brentwood won two other medals at the meet, which was held at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Rivera won gold in the discus throw on Friday. Winning a fifth-place medal on Saturday was the boys 400-meter relay team of Jacob Clay, Kaylon Jenkins, Deshaun Johnson and Justice Harris.
Best ever in Missouri
Rivera’s shot put attempt of 51 feet 1.25 inches broke the previous meet record of 47-7.75 by 3 feet 5.5 inches. It was set by Valeyta Althouse of Blue Springs in 1992, before Rivera was born. Althouse, by the way, went on to throw for UCLA and made the U.S. Olympic team in 1996.
All six of Rivera’s puts would have beaten Althouse’s 23-year-old mark. The record breaker came on her second throw in the preliminary round. It moved Rivera from No. 3 to No. 1 on the list of best high school puts in the U.S. this season.
In an interview several weeks ago she said she was working hardest on the shot put for the postseason. She had focused on it for the indoor track season, and had won the shot put at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March. But since then, for most of the outdoor track season, she had been practicing not usual two but three events, with Missouri high schools adding the javelin on a trial basis this year.
“I think shot right now is my primary focus,” she said on May 5. “I had a good indoor season and I want to get back up to that level again. I really feel that the reason it’s kind of not as good as the indoor thing is because of javelin and discus. In indoor I was just training shot because that’s where I was going. But this season I’ve trained for all three and I think my body is getting a bit confused. But it seemed to work great with javelin.”
It did indeed with the javelin, as her throw of 175-10 in April is currently the second best high school attempt of the year and 14th best including college athletes.
Rivera won the discus on Friday with a throw of 154-9, shattering her previous best by five feet. She beat the second-place thrower by just over 42 feet. With the two first places, she scored 20 points, which tied BHS for 11th place among girls teams from 56 schools.
400 relay speeds from 8th to 5th
In the 400-meter relay preliminaries on Friday, Brentwood barely qualified for the finals by taking eighth place with a time of 45.46 seconds. The runners were Clay, Johnson, Harris and Corey Carroll. In the finals on Saturday, Jenkins replaced Carroll and the Eagles won a fifth-place medal with a time of 44.82.
It’s the second year in a row that BHS has medaled in the 400 relay. Last year Clay and three seniors won fourth with a time of 44.24.
Clay also ran in the 100-meter dash and Jenkins in the 200 but neither made it to the finals. Clay took 12th in the prelims with a time of 11.63 seconds. Jenkins took 14th in the prelims with 23.67.
In all, the BHS boys scored four points, good for 43rd place among 51 schools.