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By JOSH CLAYWELL firstname.lastname@example.org
RADCLIFF — It didn’t take long for North Hardin senior Stacie Vaughn to realize running wasn’t her strong point when she joined the track and field team in her freshman year.
Veteran coach James Webb convinced longtime assistant/throwing coach Sam Franklin to give Vaughn a shot in the discus and shot put events. The move paid off for Vaughn, who has become one of the state’s top throwers.
“We didn’t think she’d pan out running, so Coach Webb told her she should try throwing,” Franklin said. “At first I thought she wasn’t going to pan out the way she did. I was really surprised in her the last two years because she’s a year behind.”
Vaughn missed most of her sophomore year after having surgery on her jaw. She competed in four events that season and qualified for the Class 3-A, Region 2 meet.
Last year at State, Vaughn finished second to Owensboro’s Amashi Kendall in the discus. At the region meet the week before, Vaughn set a personal-record best of 108 feet, eight inches.
Vaughn’s best throw this season was a 106-04, a mark she would like to improve in time for this weekend’s region meet at Louisville St. Xavier.
“The past couple of meets I haven’t been doing as good as I should be doing,” Vaughn said. “I was hoping to be at 115 (feet) or somewhere around there right now.”
Franklin feels Vaughn can reach that mark and catch Kendall as long as she doesn’t peak too soon on her throws.
“If we can add a little of this and a little of that and peak her at the right time, yes,” Franklin said. “The problem is peaking her at the right time. Two years ago I peaked a kid two weeks before State and it really hurt him because all he could do was go down. If I peak her just right, and the girl from Owensboro hits her peak and goes down, we can catch her.”
And after a season of peaks and valleys, Vaughn hopes she’s on the final upswing.
If Saturday’s St. Xavier Invitational is any indication, Vaughn appears headed in the right direction. Vaughn set a new personal record and won the 17-competitor shot put with a throw of 34-09.50 and won the discus by almost four feet with a throw of 101-08.
“I’ve had peaks and I’ve had moments where I haven’t done good at all,” Vaughn said. “Coach (Franklin) says you peak two or three times a year and you’re supposed to peak at region. There have been times where I haven’t gotten enough throws in. My throwing hasn’t gone good unless I get enough reps in.”
Vaughn has an additional obstacle to overcome each time she steps in the ring: At 5-foot-6, Vaughn isn’t as tall as other throwers and isn’t blessed with longer arms.
But Franklin doesn’t think that’s held Vaughn back in either event.
“I’ve always had shorter girls. I’ve never had the big, tall athletic girls,” Franklin said. “What set them apart was their technique. They didn’t rely on brute strength.”
In order to make up for her lack of height, Vaughn said she has to make sure she does everything the correct way on each throw.
“I’m not as tall, so I have to do everything the right way. Coach has told me if I don’t I won’t get enough height on it,” Vaughn said. “It would be better if I had longer arms and was taller just because you get more torque on your throws.”
Having a coach like Franklin helps, Vaughn said.
“Coach Franklin, he always pushes me. He’s always giving me a hard time just because he knows I can do better,” she said. “I see a lot of other girls that don’t have coaches like him. Coach Franklin knows everything there is to know about it, and it helps a lot.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752