CLINTON — Coach June Wilden wanted her Clinton High School girls track and field team to gain confidence, so she entered the freshmen and sophomores — the bulk of the team — in the sophomore portion of the Mississippi Athletic Conference meet Thursday at Bill Holsclaw Track.
All but one sophomore, that is. And the one sophomore who entered varsity events came away leading the River Queens in scoring while garnering their lone first-place finish.
Erika Hammond, who missed by 1 inch qualifying for the state meet in the shot put last spring, won that event Thursday and added a fifth-place finish in the discus. Alayna Geronzin also scored in both events, and combined, the two throwers scored 20 of Clinton’s 23 points in the meet.
Pleasant Valley won the team title with 158 points, while Davenport Assumption was second with 131 and Bettendorf placed third with 110.
Hammond, who leads Class 4A throwers in the state with a season-best throw of 40 feet, 8 inches in the shot, couldn’t quite match that Thursday. But all three of her throws in the finals were better than 39, with each being enough to win the competition. Her best effort was 39-2.
“My goal this year was to consistently throw 36 feet,” Hammond said. “My goal now is to be in the top eight at state.
“I come in with a better mindset now, that I’m going to get first. Last year, my mind wasn’t set there.”
Along with improving her mental approach, Hammond also said she has improved physically this season.
“I’ve been working with a personal trainer, and that’s helped a lot,” she said. “I’ve mostly worked on lifting with my legs and on my arms.”
Hammond threw the discus 99-11, as he wound up one spot behind fourth-place finisher Geronzin. Geronzin, who took eighth in the shot put at 33-5, went 106-4 in the discus.