Missouri's Kearsten Peoples wins shot put with standout performance

Sunday, May 12, 2013 | 9:00 p.m. CDT
Missouri sophomore Kearsten Peoples placed first in the shot put event with a distance 17.8 meters Sunday at Audrey J. Walton Stadium.

COLUMBIA — A bright orange shot clanks down a specially made ramp, returning it from the end of the throwing area back to the starting position.

It lands with a thud among the rest of the shots. There are a handful of silver ones, one pink one. But this one is the only orange one in the bunch.

It's only fitting that this unique shot belongs to Missouri sophomore Kearsten Peoples, a standout thrower herself. An All-American and Missouri's record holder in the shot put, Peoples also finished fourth in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the shot put last year.

As she stood, hands on her hips, watching her orange shot roll down the ramp during warmups at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday, Peoples was quiet.

Peoples led for the first two rounds, throwing for 16.95 meters and then 16.99 meters. She didn't say much after the throws, just an occasional "Yes!" to herself.

She walked up to the very edge of the throwing area circle in the third round. She raised her arm, shook her hand, patted her leg. She turned around, lifted the orange shot and spun to launch it, as she always does.

"There it is!" the crowd cheered. The throw looked promising, standing out among the other throws.

The red flag went up. Foul.

It was a "big scratch," but Peoples just silently left the throwing area and walked back to her teammates.

"If you can do it once, you can do it again," Peoples said, knowing she could throw that far without fouling.

And she would have the chance to try again, advancing to the final round in first place.

The top nine throwers to compete in the finals were given a 15 minute warmup period. They lined up to practice throws, some shouting as they did so.

But Peoples sat on the bench, quietly waiting.

The final round got underway. Peoples improved her first round distances, throwing 17.18 meters and then 17.23 meters.

Then she sat, elbows on her knees, fingers together. She looked down, tapped her foot.

It was time for her final throw.

"Last one, best one!" her teammate, Cortni Ervin, shouted.

Peoples threw for 17.80 meters.

She clapped, cracked a smile and relaxed.

Her teammates seemed almost more excited than she was. They approached her in waves, all wanting hugs from the latest SEC champion.

"I'm going to cry," Katie Evans said as she hugged her teammate, the teammate with whom she had painted their shots — Evans' pink, Peoples' orange.

While not crying herself, Peoples was visibly more relaxed, bantering about wanting just one more throw — after a consistent day like today, who knows how far another throw would've gone?

But for now, with her bright orange shot in hand, she can add SEC champion to the list of accomplishments that make her stand out.

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