WESTERVILLE — For Newton senior Dawson Hildebrand, there could not have been a better finish in his third shot at the D-III state shot put title.
And while he came away as Newton’s first individual state champion, joining the Newton softball team that won a state title in that elite status, he was just happy to be competing.
“It feels great,” Dawson said about winning the state championship Friday morning at Westerville North High School. “But really, after last season and Covid, it was just nice to have a season. I was happy to be here competing.”
Hildebrand, who came in with the third best qualifying put at regionals, went with a power put on his first attempt and launched it 58-4 1-2 to take a lead he never relinquished.
“I threw from power I my first attempt,” Hildebrand said. “I was really proud of myself. That was my best throw from power all season. It kind of set the tone for the rest of the competition.”
Newton coach Nick Rhoades said Hildebrand sent a message early after what had been a tough year.
“He had a broken foot (football) and sprained ankle (state indoors),” Rhoades said. “So, we were kind of babying it for most of the season. To his credit, a couple weeks ago, he said Okay, it is time to step it up. He really had a good week of practice this week.”
And he got the other competitors attention quickly.
“I think they had read about it, saw it on mile split, but to see it in person, I think it was tough for them to recover from,” Rhoades said.
Ryan Henry of McDonald was close.
He had a 57-10 in prelims and would finish second with 57-11 1-2.
“We knew there were a couple of guys capable of going 59, 60,” Rhoades said. “I really thought the Henry kid was going to get there.”
Going to the final put in finals, Hildebrand was clinging to that lead.
He had finished fourth as a freshman and fifth as a sophomore.
“It was nervewracking, because I had the best throw with 58,” Hildebrand said. “But, I have been close before and been denied every time.”
Rhoades was a little nervous as well.
“I really thought we needed to do something with that second throw (in finals),” Rhoades said. “But, it didn’t happen.”
But, when Henry didn’t top him on his third put, Hildebrand was the only one remaining to go, making him state champion.
“At that point, being the Newton coach was fun thing to be,” Rhoades said.
But, Hildebrand still had something in mind and he finished in style.
He launched a put of 60-7 1-2 to put an exclamation point on his state title.
“It was a great way to finish,” he said. “My lifting coach the last five years (Larry Pacifico) had never seen me throw 60. This was the only meet he was able to attend, so it was great to do it in front of him.”
Hildebrand said the key was knowing he had already won.
“I have been going through a mental block and that just lifted it,” Hildebrand said. “I was really relaxed.”
“We finally got the glide line up,” he said. “His technique and the way he moved was so good on that last one, you could just see how relaxed he was.”
Hildebrand said what he accomplished hasn’t really set in.
”I am freaking out,” he said. “I am Newton’s highest ranked athlete ever. I am just so proud coming from a small school that has had so many great people.”
Newton’s Lane Kesling finished 15th in the 400 in 52.51.
On Saturday, Hildebrand will compete in the discus and Rylie Resides will compete in the girls pole vault.
The Lehman Catholic girls had a big day at Westernville North.
Kiersten Franklin advanced to the finals with the second fastest time in the 200, 25.61 and fifth fastest time in the 100, 12.50.
Lindsey Magoteaux advanced with the sixth fastest time in the 100, 12.56.
And the 400 and 800 relays both advanced to Saturday’s finals with the third fastest time.
The 400 relay (Ella Black, Ella Monnin, Katie McFarland, Magoteaux) was clocked in 50.41; while the 800 relay (Monnin, Magoteaux, McFarland, Franklin) was clocke in 1:45.28.