McKenzie Salazar-Fox started throwing the shot put long before her high school track and field career began.
Track runs in her family, the 6-foot freshman at Shelton High School says, and her throwing days date back to adolescence.
“I’ve always been tall, and a little bigger than everyone,” Salazar-Fox said. “I’m not a runner at all.
“While all of my brothers were running I was throwing, and I really liked it.”
Salazar-Fox was one of the premier area freshmen that attended the first edition of the South Sound Froshowcase on a rare sunny Wednesday at Ingersoll Stadium in Olympia.
She won the shot put, matching her season-best throw at 38 feet, 1 inch, and is the top-ranked freshman in Washington in the event.
“Being at the top, you always have to do (well),” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s really exciting.”
Salazar-Fox trails only two throwers in the Class 3A rankings, and is ranked 18th statewide.
“If she throws as far as she did today in the state meet, she should place,” Shelton throws coach John Sells said. “Just the number will tell you that.”
Sells said Salazar-Fox has the potential to be a very good thrower as she matures.
Wednesday she welcomed the opportunity to throw against athletes her age — she also won the discus with a personal-best throw of 91-10. She’s usually pitted against upperclassmen in varsity events.
The top-ranked shot putter in 3A — Gig Harbor junior Hadassah Ward — also competes in the 3A South Sound Conference. Ward won a 4A state title last season.
“I kind of shock myself throwing against everyone older,” Salazar-Fox said. “Placing high, I’m just trying to stay up, stay at the top.”
She wants to reach 42 feet this season, at least, and worked during the offseason at Shelton with the thought that she could begin the quest to be a four-time state titlist.
“My goal is to win state,” Salazar-Fox said. “I just keep putting in work, putting in a lot of hours.”
That’s what it will take, she said.
But Salazar-Fox is no stranger to big stages. She’s competed in the junior Olympics twice, and took fourth in the shot put last summer in Sacramento.
“It’s a super big meet, and it’s intense,” she said. “Being a part of it, and especially placing that high, is super cool.”
Now, Salazar-Fox is focused on ending her first high school track season with a similar high.
“This whole track season I’ve been hitting PRs and throwing the best that I can,” she said.
GILLILAND SWEEPS THROWS
Tumwater freshman Tyler Gilliland swept the boys shot put (44-3), discus (135-2) and javelin (143-11). He is ranked in the top 10 statewide among freshman in all three events.
Gilliland is ranked second in the shot put following a personal-best throw of 46-9 at the 57th Shelton Invitational last weekend.
He moved up to fourth among freshman in the discus on Wednesday with his personal-best throw of 135-2, and broked the top 10 in the javelin with his personal-best throw of 143-11. He’s now ranked fifth in the event.
Every winner on Wednesday set a record in the meet’s first season — and some set multiple.
Along with Salazar-Fox and Gilliland, seven more freshman won more than one event.
Tumwater’s Trent Kibler won the high jump at 6-0 — matching his personal best — and is the second-ranked freshman jumper in the state. He also helped the T-Birds to first-place finishes in the 4x100 relay (47.57) and 4x400 relay (3:49.26).
Garrett Brown also picked up two wins as a leg of Tumwater’s two relay teams, while Haven Carr won the 400 (55.33) and ran a leg of the 4x400.
Shelton’s Tyler Youngquist won both the long jump (18-5 1/2) and triple jump (37-3 1/2). Peninsula’s Jude Endsley won both hurdles events, posting a 16.76 in the 110 hurdles, and a 45.26 in the 300 hurdles.
Madison Vu won the girls 200 (26.73) and 400 (1:02.28) for North Thurston. She is the eighth-ranked freshman statewide in the 400.
Olympia’s Cassidy Walchack won the 800 (2:32.05) and helped the Bears to a first-place finish in the 4x400 relay (4:35.7).
SOUTH SOUND FROSHOWCASE — WINNERS
100 — Clayton Grady, Capital, 11.57
200 — Will Anderson, Olympia, 22.88
400 — Haven Carr, Tumwater, 55.33
800 — Jacob Barnert, Yelm, 2:06.26
1,600 — Ethan Bursch, Shelton, 4:48.33
3,200 — Ken Hooper, Peninsula, 11:16.08
110 hurdles — Jude Endsley, Peninsula, 16.76
300 hurdles — Jude Endsley, Peninsula, 45.26
4x100 relay — Tumwater (Trent Kibler, Austin St. Louis, Garrett Brown, Hunter Baker) 47.57
4x400 relay — Tumwater (Garrett Brown, Haven Carr, Trent Kibler, Alexander Groat) 3:49.26
Shot put — Tyler Gilliland, Tumwater, 44-3
Discus — Tyler Gilliland, Tumwater, 135-2
Javelin — Tyler Gilliland, Tumwater, 143-11
High jump — Trent Kibler, Tumwater, 6-0
Pole vault — Colby Wilson, Capital, 10-6
Long jump — Tyler Youngquist, Shelton, 18-5 1/2
Triple jump — Tyler Youngquist, Shelton, 37-3 1/2
100 — Ashley Babkirk, Timberline, 13.02
200 — Madison Vu, North Thurston, 26.73
400 — Madison Vu, North Thurston, 1:02.28
800 — Cassidy Walchak, Olympia, 2:32.05
1,600 — Ashleigh Martin, Peninsula, 5:52.68
3,200 — Shasta Hecht, Capital, 12:59.92
100 hurdles — Maeve Griffin, Peninsula, 17.45
300 hurdles — Ne’a Moffett, Shelton, 51.13
4x100 relay — Olympia (Lucia Peralta, Christina Spinharney, Ariana Arch, Imani Etile) 52.19
4x400 relay — Olympia (Isabelle DuMontier, Lyric Tinnel, Cassidy Walchak, Ruby Gruber) 4:35.7
Shot put — McKenzie Salazar-Fox, Shelton, 38-1
Discus — McKenzie Salazar-Fox, Shelton, 91-1
Javelin — Megan Garcia, Yelm, 99-5
High jump — Kyra Skipworth, Capital, 4-4
Pole vault — Cassandra Mullin, Tumwater, 8-0
Long jump — Trinity Payment, Shelton, 14-6
Triple jump — Austyne Cralle, Shelton, 31-5