COLUMBIA — It only takes one throw to change everything.
That’s the mantra Missouri sophomore thrower Kearsten Peoples used before her final turn in the preliminary round of the women’s discus throw Saturday at the Southeastern Conference championships. Only the top nine throwers advance to the finals. At that point, Peoples knew she wasn’t one of them.
“I was very nervous, but I knew I could do it,” Peoples said.
After selecting her discus from a rack of a dozen, Peoples entered the mesh cage. Cheers of “Let’s Go KP” echoed through the crowd dressed in black and gold as Peoples settled into her stance. Her hands shook in nervous anticipation. After one final deep breath, Peoples began her approach, rotating twice before releasing the discus into the air.
“As soon as I felt it was a good release, I felt relieved,” she said.
The discus landed a few feet inside the white out-of-bounds line.
“54.05 meters,” an official read over the loud speaker.
Instantly, Peoples face lit up. The mark was Peoples’ best of the season. Breathing a sigh of relief, she walked over to teammate Jill Rushin and gave her a hug.
In a single throw, all of Peoples’ frustration had melted away. The throw comfortably earned Peoples a spot in the finals, where she finished second on the strength of the mark behind Texas A&M freshman Shelbi Vaughan, who won with a mark of 56.65 meters.
Missouri throws coach Brett Halter said he wasn’t surprised to see Peoples perform under pressure.
“Today was just a taste of the competitor she is,” Halter said. “I had a coach come up to me this weekend (before Peoples' season record) and say ‘I thought Kearsten was a good thrower?’ Yeah she’s a good thrower. Does Tiger Woods win every event he’s entered in?”
Peoples’ second-place finish earned Missouri eight points. Rushin, also a sophomore, finished seventh in the discus.
In the women’s pole vault, Missouri sophomore Katrine Haarklau finished third. She cleared 4.10 meters to earn All-SEC honors.
Missouri sophomore MaCauley Garton also earned the Tigers points in the men’s javelin throw, finishing sixth with a throw of 65.06 meters.
In the preliminary round of the 100 meters, freshman Markesh Woodson ran a personal-best 10.11 seconds to secure a spot in Sunday’s final.
Competition Sunday begins with the women’s javelin throw and the men’s triple jump at 1 p.m.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.