COLUMBIA — There's a part of the throwing area at Hickman High School where a shot put has clearly landed several times. The grass is gone, leaving just dirt and pebbles.
When shot-putters throw, the shot almost always lands in that spot. But when Hickman senior Sarah Hall throws, the shot goes farther and lands where there is still grass.
Even on a below average throwing day Tuesday at the Hickman Relays, Hall's shots found the grass. Hall won the shot put event at the Hickman Relays with a throw of 37 feet, 7 inches.
At last year's state championships, Hall won the title with a throw of 44-1. This year, Hall said she is feeling the pressure that comes with winning a state championship.
"I feel like I always need to break my record and do better than what I did last year at the end of the season," Hall said.
Chad Masters, the throws coach at Hickman, said he tries to alleviate the pressure.
"I tell her that at every meet, you've just got to compete," Masters said. "I want her to focus on the little things and try to get better at every meet."
Nobody is better at focusing on the little things than Hall, a self-proclaimed perfectionist. But Masters isn't sure that's always a good thing.
"It's a great blessing and a great curse because sometimes you can suffer a little paralysis by analysis," Masters said.
Hall has been working at the shot put since she was in sixth grade. Her father, Jarvis Hall, was a thrower and was also her first coach.
At the Hickman Relays, Jarvis Hall sat in the bleachers and patiently watched the shot put event. He sat with his arms folded, talking to the people around him, most often with a smile on his face.
After her first throw, Sarah Hall went to talk to him about it.
"He's a good guy to talk to," Masters said of Jarvis Hall. "He's a real quiet guy with a lot of knowledge."
But next year, Hall won't always be able to go talk to her dad between throws. Hall received a scholarship to throw at Georgia Southern University.
"I just really like the team," Hall said. "I was kind of excited it was in Georgia — you know, its something different. I've been here my whole life, so I've always wanted to go out of state."
Jarvis Hall isn't as excited.
"He's actually really upset because I'm really a daddy's girl," Sarah Hall said. "He's really gonna miss me."
Her teammates will also miss her.
"When we're split up into groups and Coach (Masters) is with the other group, and I'm with her, she helps me and gives me good advice," sophomore thrower Kasey Nichols said.
Hall doesn't only give advice at practice. When Nichols threw on Tuesday, Hall called out to her to bend her legs more.
"She's got a lot of respect on this team," Masters said. "You go out and put up 15-20 points every single meet, you've got a little street cred out here."
The respect people have for Hall goes beyond track and field. Hall has been part of the Hickman leadership committee since her sophomore year and was named the 2010 homecoming queen last fall.
She will continue to chase another shot put title at the Kirkwood Invitational on Saturday.