CHARLESTON – After dreaming about it for six years, what was one more day for Oregon’s Jenae Bothe?
The senior thrower popped a big throw in the shot put preliminaries Thursday at the IHSA Class 1A State Track & Field Meet, and led by more than three feet heading into Saturday’s finals.
And while she didn’t improve on that prelims throw of 13.17 meters (43 feet, 2 1/2 inches) in her final three tosses, nobody else in the field got any closer as she clinched the state championship she had once only thought about in an offhand sort of way.
“Just overall, it’s always been on my mind year-round, but I never really thought it was going to happen,” she said. “Obviously everyone thinks about it occasionally, but it wasn’t until this season that I thought, ‘I can do this, and I want it.’”
She wanted it so badly that she hit her biggest throw in about a month in the prelims, and could taste the title as she left the ring Thursday.
But with finals not until Saturday, she had a whole day to sit and think about it, and figure out her plan of attack in the finals. She decided the best thing to do was to just keep her foot on the accelerator.
“Keep the pressure on everybody else,” she said. “I didn’t know how I would be feeling today – I’ve been sick all week – so I was just going to play to how the competition did. My mindset was just to set the tone and have people chase me.”
She set that tone with her first two throws in the finals, which were nearly a meter farther than anyone else at 12.73 and 12.83 meters. Her final throw covered 12.29 meters.
“I’m overall satisfied,” she said, when asked about following that game plan. “It would’ve been nice to hit a bigger one, but I’m OK with my throws today.”
It was such a dominant display that the only other girl to even make it past 12 meters – on either day – was runner-up Kayla Braun of Sparta. Her second throw of the finals was a 12.12, and her 12.21 (40 feet, 3/4 inch) from prelims carried over for her best mark.
Bothe said her best memory of the half-decade long road to her state championship is the Sunday practices. But when she looks back on it in the future, she’ll always remember the picture-perfect ending on her final day as a Hawk.
“It’s just a really nice way to wrap up my high school career, to know that I can do it and I will do it when I set my mind to it,” she said. “This is six years in the making, so to make it happen is great.”