More than a shot in the dark
Gar-Field senior Tiffany Evans is not letting anything stand in her way this year. Not snow, not school closings and certainly not the competition.
With Frank W. Cox two-time defending state champion Lindsay Neuberger graduated, Evans is ranked No. 1 in the shot put this winter. And she plans to keep it that way.
“It would be disappointing [not winning a state title],” Evans said. “Because right now, I am supposed to go in there and win first place, and anything less is not good for me or my team.”
Like all athletes in the Prince William County area, it’s been a brutal winter. Snow has forced Prince William to cancel 13 school days this season, which means no practices in any sport. However, the Cardinal District and Northwest Region champion has put in the work inside schools halls and stayed sharp mentally despite inferior competition.
Evans, who finished second to Neuberger in the indoor and outdoor state meets, has thrown a season-best 45 feet, two and a half inches, consistently averaged in the mid-40’s and hasn’t lost a competition in six invitationals. Her closest threat has come from Jamie Mushatt Valrie of Brooke Point, whose best throw (36 feet, three inches at the Northwest Region meet) is still eons away from Evans’ average throw.
“I have been my biggest motivator,” Evans said. “I get mad at myself more than anybody else. It’s tough not having competition, like last year I had Lindsay to go after.”
“I don’t thinks she thinks about that [being the favorite],” added Gar-Field throws coach Tom Parisi. “I think she’s just thinking what we work on during the week.”
And despite being the state’s best shot putters –the next best throw is 41-4 from Catherine Muehleib of Lake Braddock — Evans is continually tweaking her form to get the best possible outcome. Just after the district meet where she threw 44-9, Parisi worked with Evans on changing her form to get more lift on her throws. She paid for it with a subpar [for her standards] throw of 43-91/2 at the region meet, but thinks it will eventually make her a better thrower.
“The whole trick is to look at a focus point like, let’s say the light or a speaker, something that’s high,” Evans said. “And the higher you throw…that’s how your shot is gonna go. So that is what we’ve been working on.”
Evans should also be a force to be reckoned with in the outdoor season. After narrowly making the finals of the discus last season, she popped out a personal-best 125-8 on her last attempt to finish second behind Neuberger in the Group AAA state meet in Richmond. Her PR in the shot put is 45-10 at the Southern Track Classic at Dinwiddie last spring and she would like to top both marks this spring.
“For the spring, I want to throw about a 48 or 49 [feet] in the shot,” Evans said. “In the discus, I am trying to get up to 140. [I want] a state title in both because last year I was second in both.”
“She definitely has the potential, without a doubt, to throw in the high 40s,” Parisi said. “She’s had some patella tendon injuries, some pain in her knee but I think her weight training has taken the pressure off her knee, made her legs stronger. When she works on discus, she’s becomes that much faster and effective in the circle.”
Evans wants to participate in track in college and has looked at Radford, Maryland and South Carolina. Evans wants the best academic and athletic fit and her throws are already comparable to many Division I performers. Evans already would have the best throw in Radford history and she would be the second-best thrower at Maryland when compared to last year’s Terrapin throwers.
South Carolina, the 2002 outdoor national champions, boast former Hayfield star and Virginia Group AAA state champion India Odum. The Gamecocks junior owned the former indoor state meet record –broken by Neuberger –of 45-61/4 and her current best is 50-23/4.
With her positive attitude, terrific work ethic and family support, Parisi has no doubts that Evans will be a hit in college, no matter where she goes.
“Now, I am just basically a paid observer,” Parisi joked.