North Hardin’s Angel Lee rounded out her sophomore year with a state title and hopes to continue that success next year as she improves over the summer.
Lee took home the state championship for the second year in a row in the KHSSA Class 3-A shot put after narrowly beating Central Hardin’s Jasmine Carroll.
Lee finished at 40-foot-9 on her fifth throw. She was trailing Carroll by 2½-inches at the time.
Performing at a big stage such as the state championships can be difficult for any athlete to focus and it took Lee a while to realize she had what it takes to win and come out on top.
“At first it was really hard to focus and nerve-rattling because it was the first year I realized that I made it here because of what I’ve been doing,” Lee said.
Lee was motivated to win for not just herself, but for her team, school and the people who care about her. She said she gave it her all and was happy all the hard work paid off.
“When I wasn’t coming in first I was kind of getting discouraged, but around my last throw I was looking into the stands and saw that all the people were having fun and I recognized that people from different schools were talking to each other and I realized that I can’t be down right now because I made it here because of the work I did with my coaches, my school and the people that I care about got me here,” she said. “In the end I said I had to give it my all or I’m just letting them down. In the end I was able to push through and win.”
Coach Antonio Jackson knows how important track and field is to Lee and said she was shining during the state meet.
“She was in her element at state,” Jackson said. “The kid loves to throw and when I went over to watch her, she had a smile on her face and was having a great time, that’s when I knew today was going to be a good day for her. Angel was truly shining June 1st. It was a special moment for her and her family, who is her support system at every meet.”
Lee has been selected as the Area Field Athlete of the Year by the area coaches and The News-Enterprise sports staff. She earned seven first place votes from the coaches that voted and tallied 35 points. North Hardin’s Aniya Diamond was second, totaling 21 points. Central Hardin’s Carroll was third with 10 points and one first place vote. Voting was done on a 5-3-1 scale and coaches couldn’t vote for their players.
Lee also was selected as the All-Area Sophomore of the Year by the seven area coaches and The News-Enterprise sports staff. She earned six first place votes and tallied 33 points. LaRue County’s Jada Hunter-Hayes and Carroll tied for second with 17 points.
“It feels amazing, I didn’t know I was doing that well compared to other people,” Lee said. “It’s really amazing. My parents were so proud and when they told me I almost cried.”
Jackson had nothing but high praise for Lee and what she brings to the North Hardin squad.
“Angel is a great student-athlete and she has one of the best attitudes on the team,” Jackson said. “She has a flamboyant personality and is driven to be great.”
Jackson has seen major improvements from Lee this season and hopes to see more in her junior year.
“Her improvement is a direct reflection of a Hall of Fame legendary Coach Sam Franklin,” he said. “Her willingness to learn and understand she is young and while she has had a great amount of success; she understands she has more to learn and that’s scary.”
Lee’s dominance isn’t over just yet. She has two more seasons to look forward to and is prepared to do whatever she can to improve and be the best athlete she can be.
“I’m really excited that I’m going to be getting back into it,” said Lee, who won the state championship as a freshman with a toss of 37-5. “I have two more years of doing this over and I want to make it a thing that I win as many times as I can.”
Lee has big goals for her remaining seasons and hopes to show everyone she is the best field athlete every year. She even has her sights set on the record books.
“By senior year I want to try and break a state record and I want to do it again,” she said.
The team chemistry Lee has with her teammates is strong.
“We’ve become like family,” she said. “We always know what is up with each other. We always try to help each other even if we’re not in the same event.”
That team chemistry helps Lee throughout the season and she is happy to have her teammates there to support her through high pressure situations, such as the state championship.