Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
CENTRAL POINT — No sooner had the heavy steel ball hit the dirt with a thud did eyes widen and heads turn.
"He did that standing," said several spectators at the shot put area during the 40th Crater Rotary Track and Field Classic Saturday at Crater High.
Derrick Turituri's unconventional throwing method produced unmatched results, allowing the senior to easily capture the event with a heave of 51 feet, 71/2 inches. The mark is a personal best by nearly 3 feet.
Grants Pass won both the boys and girls team titles in the meet that attracted athletes from 26 schools.
The Caveman boys scored 68.5 points to edge Thurston. South Medford, with a couple of individual champions in sprinter Jacob Lowe and jumper Kyle Larson, was third with 66 points.
The Grants Pass girls scored 89 points to easily outdistance Roseburg (60) and Thurston (59.5).
On a day when local winners were sparse, the Cascade Christian girls turned in two event champions in distance runner Stephanie Croy, who clocked in at a state-best mark in the 3,000, and discus-thrower Michelle Kinney.
Turituri possesses an uncommon blend of size, strength and speed — and he hasn't even shown off the latter yet this track season because of a nagging hamstring injury.
He's 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, or 35 pounds more than a year ago, thanks to a detailed training regimen designed to prepare him for Pac-12 football. Turituri will be an outside linebacker for Arizona next fall.
"Yeah," he laughed of his training, "it's pretty hard."
The traditional technique for shot putters is to begin in a crouched position and with their backs to the landing grid. They glide backwards, turn and launch.
A more complicated and difficult approach is the spin method, in which the thrower builds momentum by twirling in the ring, similar to a discus thrower, before letting loose.
Turituri? Well, he stands at the front of the ring, bounces a time or two, then explodes into the throw.
"It's the easiest one," said Turituri, who has thrown the shot for only two years. "I've been working on my glide. I tried the glide today and it was only 49-something. I've got to work on that so I can get better."
The standing technique produced another throw of more than 50 feet, 51-4 to be exact, and his other attempts were short of 50.
Nathan Bursk, who succeeded Justin Loftus as the Crater head coach this spring, marveled at Turituri's performance and expects him to only get better.
"The impressive thing about him is, right now, he's just relying on strength," said Bursk. "Once he gets some technique and a little form down, he's going to impress a lot of people I think."
Until Turituri is comfortable moving around more in the ring, he'll be allowed to throw from the standing position long enough to get a good mark in.
But graduating to a glide technique, at the least, is important.
"We have to do it," said Bursk, "because in order to crack those top few in the state, we need the extra couple of feet. And the only way we're going to get them is to get a little glide out of him or something."
Turituri's winning throw gave him the fourth-best mark in Class 6A. His previous best was 48-91/2 last year.
"It definitely opened my eyes a little bit to see that I could throw that far," he said. "I'm just going to work hard and see how much farther I can throw this year."
It might not be long before he's barrelling down the track, too. When his hamstring is fully healed, Turituri will run the 100 meters and the 4x100 relay.
His best time last year was 11.37 seconds. He'd like to crack the 11-second barrier before the season's completed, even though he's carrying quite a bit more weight than a year ago.
"I definitely feel like I run a lot faster," he said. "I've been doing more for my lower half to get stronger for a lot of the people I'm going to be going against in college."
South Medford's Lowe, a sophomore, races distances between 100 and 800 meters, including relays. On this day, it was the 400, and despite having recently overcome illness, he found an extra gear when he needed to.
"Today I was just feeling a little better," said Lowe, who surged past several foes to win in a personal-best 51.29 seconds.
With about 200 yards to go, he began to lose his breath, he said.
"But I could see myself catching (runners ahead of him) so I pushed a little harder and won," said Lowe. "I had to pick off two guys. I usually kick at the 200; that's my strategy."
He knocked more than a second off his previous best of 52.33 last season. Gabe Wylie of Mountain View was second in 51.88.
Panthers teammate Larson, a senior triple-jumper, didn't expect to have much success. He's dealing with a leg injury, and his series of jumps — including the winning mark of 42-9 — took him by surprise.
"This year, I've been right in the 42s through all my jumps," he said. "I have an injured hamstring, so I did really good today compared to what I expected. I didn't expect to come out here today and win it."
Of his six jumps, four were farther than 42 feet, and he scratched on the other two. Kaden Culp of Yreka, Calif., was second at 42-01/2.
South Medford also got a runner-up finish from Ethan Cannon in the 1,500. His time was 4:11.79. Roseburg's Kenny Freeman won in 4:07.12.
Rogue River hurdler Seth Gretz captured the 110 highs (14.93) and the 300 intermediates (40.15).
In the girls meet, Cascade Christian showed some firepower with Croy and Kinney.
Croy took the 3,000 in 10:48.85, beating Roseburg's Jenna Anderson by less than half a second. Croy's time is a personal best by nearly 17 seconds and moved her to the top of the Class 3A ranks.
Their race was delayed when a race official was apparently overcome by the heat and was tended to. During the delay, Croy and Anderson chatted.
"We wanted to push each other and try to get under 11 flat," said Croy, a junior. "We didn't really care who won. I led the race the entire time and she was tucked in behind me the whole way. The last 600, we really started to kick it in. I never had a huge distance in front of her; it was a stride or two the whole race."
Kinney, meanwhile, produced the 3A's second-best throw in the discus, uncorking a 120-6 effort.
South Medford got runner-up finishes from Carmen Mejia in the 400 (59.52) and Sarah Kapple in the 800 (2:21.21).
St. Mary's Hannah Graunke was second in the pole vault (10-0).