Taking One For The Team: Smith improves discus while repeating as state shot put champ, Republic Boys Track Athlete of Year

After setting the all-time state record and winning the state championship in the shot put last season, Tucker Smith went to work this year on improving his discus throwing.

Smith ended up finishing second in the state in the discus, then defended his state title in the shot to lead Columbus North to a third-place team finish. The senior is The Republic Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row and the third time overall.

“The thing that sums Tucker up to me as a coach, is we went to him in the winter and said we have a chance to win the state track meet, and we need you in the discus, and he went to work,” North coach Rick Sluder said. “He kept perfecting that, and it hurt his shot put. For the all-time state best thrower to sacrifice his best event for the team, I can’t say enough for that kind of attitude. That’s amazing.

“He’s just impressive,” he added. “It’s like LeBron James is five points away from the scoring record, but he gives up the ball because his teammate has a hot hand. That’s a great story that night that he was more concerned with scoring 18 or 20 points that he was at breaking records. What a kid.”

Unfortunately for the Bull Dogs, first-place Plainfield and runner-up Brownsburg had a few more scoring athletes at the state meet and outscored North. But Smith’s performance was one of the top ones at the state meet.

Although Smith didn’t throw as far at state in the shot as he did last season, he did better his all-time state record when he threw 72 feet, 1/2-inch in the Conference Indiana meet at Bloomington North.

“That’s when I planned to peak to PR, so I was able to get it honed in that week,” Smith said. “To be able to PR when you want to is pretty difficult, so I was happy with that. After the B-North meet, it was mostly discus, just trying to get ready for state. At that point the focus was kind of with the discus, trying to get points for the team. So I didn’t really D-load as much for the shot.”

Smith also had thrown a personal-best 174-5 in the discus in the conference meet. His distance in that event dipped a little over the next few weeks before he threw 170-4 at state, an 11-foot improvement over his regional mark a week earlier.

“It was kind of the same thing as the shot at B-North, where I timed the peak for that meet, so being able to do it again was pretty difficult, so I was happy,” Smith said. “The discus is kind of just hoping the technique falls into place. The shot, I can time it more. I was happy both of them went well that day.”

Smith’s 72- 1/2 throw in the shot is the best in the nation this year. He was second behind Texan Bryce Foster last year.

“That was pretty much the goal because I knew I wouldn’t be doing the Nike Nationals because it was in Oregon,” Smith said. “So keeping that was a pretty big deal, and I was happy to keep it by the margin that I did. We have a lot of throwers (in Indiana) coming up that should be able to take the No. 1 spot in the nation, so hopefully, I was kind of a spearhead to kids taking throwing more seriously in high school.”

With not throwing in any postseason meets this summer, Smith is mainly just lifting until he leaves for Oklahoma University on Aug. 10. He likely won’t throw again until he arrives in Norman.

Smith improved his bench press from 390 pounds to 425 since last year.

“(Lifting) was more sporadic because the meets were a lot closer together this year,” Smith said. “So if I had a week, I’d lift, and then after that, I was just throwing for about a week. Then if I had four days, I’d get a training block in.”

At Oklahoma, Smith will be mainly throwing the shot during the indoor and outdoor seasons, and may do the weight throw indoors. He said he is a retired discus thrower.

Among Smith’s goals for next year are to win his conference and make the NCAA finals. He wants to eventually win an NCAA championship.

Smith, who began his high school career with a runner-up finish in the shot as a freshman, saw his sophomore season canceled because of the COVID pandemic. He finishes his career with two state titles, two runners-up, a state meet record and an all-time state record.

“I’d say it was about as good as it could get,” Smith said. “My freshman and junior year, I PRed by a foot or two more than I thought I would, then this year, I was able to hit another three-foot PR. To be able to keep that up for four years was good.”

The Republic All-Area Boys Track and Field team:

Tucker Smith, Columbus North: The senior won the state title in the shot put and finished second at state in the discus.

Reese Kilbarger-Stumpff, Columbus North: The senior ran on the state champion 4×800 relay team and finished second in the 1,600 and 11th in the 800.

Matt Newell, Columbus North: The senior ran on the state champion 4×800 relay team and finished third in the 800.

Mateo Mendez, Columbus North: The junior ran on the state champion 4×800 relay team and finished sixth in the regional in the 800.

Clayton Guthrie, Columbus North: The junior ran on the state champion 4×800 relay team and finished fourth in the regional in the 1,600.

Will Russell, Columbus North: The junior finished 17th at state in the 3,200.

Evan Carr, Columbus North: The senior finished 18th at state in the 3,200.

Kellen Hottell, Columbus North: The junior ran on the winning 4×800 relay team in the sectional and regional.

Josh Wright, Columbus North: The sophomore finished sixth in the regional in the 300 hurdles.

Chase Austin, Brown County: The junior finished 21st at state in the 3,200.

Kraedyn Young, Jennings County: The freshman finished fourth in the Bloomington North Regional in the 1,600 and was a regional qualifier in the 800.

Aleck Lopez, Hauser: The senior finished eighth in regional the 400 and was a regional qualifier in the long jump.

Anthony Lloyd, Columbus East: The senior won the sectional in the high jump and was a regional qualifier in the high jump and long jump.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Waylon Patrick, Rafe Silbaugh, Rhett Silbaugh. Columbus East: Tommy Anderson, Henrique Carvalho, Rocco Duffy, Ethan Duncan, Gavin Edgecomb, Jacob Guse. Columbus North: Noah Abfall, Luke Hammons, Nathan Imlay, Lwazi Mkhwanazi, Alex Narvaez, Owen Russell, Bryant Trinkle, Cole Wheeler. Edinburgh: Jackson Hartwell. Hauser: Cameron Toole. Jennings County: Brenden Baker, Will Barnes, Lane Elsner, Aidan Ernstes, Eli Hatton, Peyton Hayden, Blaine Ison, Cole Marksberry, Levi Marsh, Logan McIntosh, Evan Sochacki, Eli Wahlman.