Harrison Waddell knew very well who to credit for his state championship in the shot put.
“I have to thank my sponsor, Southern Manners, for all the biscuits and gravy,” Waddell said with a laugh.
Be it fine Southern cuisine or the hard work that Waddell has put forth this spring, it all paid off Friday morning as the Polk County junior captured the state 1A title in the shot put, winning the competition held on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University.
Waddell’s winning throw of 49-2 easily outdistanced the runner-up toss of Hayesville’s Jake McTaggart, who had a best throw of 46-10. He became just the second Polk County athlete to win the outdoor title in the shot, joining Regis Bittle (2007-2008), and just the fourth male to win an individual outdoor crown (Bittle, John Spencer Wolfe, Jake Justice).
Waddell also earned a second podium and medal with a fourth-place finish in the discus.
“It feels really good,” Waddell said. “I don’t feel like it came out of nowhere because I’ve put a lot of work into it.”
That hard work began to show promise earlier this spring as Waddell, working with Polk throws coach Amanda Simoncic, suddently began to find the secret of competitive tosses.
“I found something in practice and things started clicking,” Waddell said. “My throws jumped several feet amd I started throwing 48, 49 feet. Once that happened, I felt really confident and knew I might have a chance (at a state title).”
Each competitior in Friday’s meet took three preliminary throws, with nine competitors advancing to a final round of three more throws. McTaggart took the lead after the fourth round, but Waddell answered in the fifth round with his winning effort.
“I was nervous in the first half because I wasn’t getting my best throws,” Waddell said. “I knew exactly what I had to do, so I got into the circle for that long throw, knew I had to set my feet and rip through it, and that’s what I did.”
McTaggart gained a measure of revenge by winning the discus with a throw of 154-5. Swain’s Michael Winchester (130-0), Cherokee’s Kenson Davis (126-11) and Waddell (122-9) rounded out the top four.
POLK COUNTY STATE TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONS
OUTDOORS / BOYS
2007: Regis Bittle, shot put
2008: Regis Bittle, shot put
2008: John Spencer Wolfe, 800-meter run, 1600-meter run
2009: John Spencer Wolfe, 800-meter run, 1600-meter run
2015: Polk County, 4×800 meter relay (Sean Doyle, Nate Smart, Caleb Brown, Jacob Wolfe)
2018: Jake Justice, pole vault
2019: Jake Justice, pole vault
2021: Harrison Waddell, shot put