If the North Carolina High School Opener is any indication, A.L. Brown shot putter Samara Tisdale could make a legitimate run at a 1A/2A/3A state championship in indoor track and field.
At the prestigious event in Chapel Hill Jan. 7, the Wonders' senior placed fourth among 31 throwers. When you consider all three throwers who finished ahead of her represented 4A schools, it appears the rest of the field in the lower classifications may be chasing Tisdale.
A two-time state qualifier in outdoor track and field, Tisdale is throwing her farthest ever in this, her senior year.
A.L. Brown opened the current indoor season with two December "polar bear" meets at East Rowan - meets held outdoors with indoor track and field measurements.
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On Dec. 14, Tisdale qualified for the state indoor meet with a heave of 34 feet, 10 inches. She finished first among a solid field of competitors, of whom five threw more than 31 feet and qualified for the state meet.
Tisdale fell short of qualifying for the state meet as a freshman and sophomore. Last year she didn't compete, citing the need to concentrate on school, and "it was really cold outside, too."
Competing at the Eddie Smith Field House on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill two weeks ago, Tisdale's best throw at the North Carolina High School Opener was 33-6 1/2. The day's best throw, by Southern Durham's Regene Watson, went for 36-1 1/2
The meet is one of the true measuring sticks of the indoor track-and-field season, since it is held in an indoor arena. More than 100 teams were present, including high schools from all classifications and other non-scholastic track-and-field clubs.
"That was a big shocker to me," said Tisdale. "I knew I could have gone a little stronger than what I was. ... Overall, my finish was good, even though I've gotten first-places before. But the competition was good there."
Another way of measuring Tisdale's regular season to compare her best throw against those of other athletes in the state. In the 1A/2A/3A rankings, Tisdale's ranks sixth.
The positive side to that is that none of the others competed at the North Carolina High School Opener. Even Tisdale's best throw came at an outdoor meet.
Throwing in the true outdoor season, in the spring, is where Tisdale has been at her best. She has captured three South Piedmont Conference titles and a regional championship her sophomore year.
Brian Landis, the Kannapolis girls' track-and-field coach, said Tisdale has been able to steadily improve over the years because of her commitment to bettering her technique and to the weight room. She has mastered a kick-slide technique, which gives her more push on her throws.
"In shot put, you have to put a lot of weight on one leg," said Landis. "She's been able to keep balanced on that kick slide. Her speed has improved. She used to just glide her freshman year."
The daughter of Kevin and Sharon Logan, Tisdale credits the encouragement she received from her family, friends and Landis with redirecting her path during her sophomore season. She said she wasn't taking track and field as seriously that year, but her support team reeled her back in.
Tisdale also throws discus and has won some regular-season meets, but her results don't match what she has accomplished in the shot put.