Halle Gibson, freshman at Leesville Road High School, is currently ranked the sixth freshman in the state for shotput, with a throw of thirty-two feet and ten inches.
Gibson, who joined cross country in the fall heading into her freshman year, veered towards shotput after an injury cut her cross country season short.
“Honestly, it was kind of just ‘this is interesting, never done it before, why not?’” said Gibson, when asked about why she began throwing shotput. “And then, you know, I got injured during cross country, and I couldn’t run during indoor track. So I thought: ‘We’ll try throwing and see how it goes’.”
“It went really well…”
Gibson participated in shotput throughout the entire indoor track and field season from January to March, training five to six days a week. She ended her indoor season with a twenty-nine-foot personal best and a determination to keep improving.
But while continuing into the outdoor track and field season, Gibson has had to learn how to balance her commitments. As a member of the JV girl’s soccer team, she practices with the soccer team daily and fits in throwing practice before and afterward.
“I practice every day. During indoor it was every day, but during soccer…usually, I just practice for a bit after,” Gibson said. “It’s been stressful…but it’s also really fun. It kind of has a balance to it, and I try to keep it as consistent as possible.”
As a result of her hard work, Gibson has been able to contribute tremendously to both the track and field team and the JV soccer team, proving herself as an athlete that is not afraid to put in extra time and effort.
“She is an incredibly hardworking individual. She picks up stuff incredibly fast,” said Micheal Tetreault, head coach of the JV girl’s soccer team.
“Because of her high intellect and her high work rate, we’ve been able to give her an increasingly large share of responsibility throughout the season, and we’ve been able to ask more and more of her in terms of her contributions to the team,” said Tetreault.
On the throwing team, Gibson’s dedication has allowed her to not only improve her own technique but also support her teammates.
“As a teammate, I think she is very positive and very encouraging,” said Rania Brown, junior and member of the LRHS throwing team. “Anytime you take a throw that you didn’t think was good she is always going to tell you good job, or encourage you to do it again if she thinks you can do better.”
Gibson’s diligence has not gone unnoticed by her teammates, either.
“Her dedication to the team is out of this world. She has soccer, she’s in season right now, and we typically end practice around 4:30. So when she’s done with soccer she’ll come and throw right after,” said Brown.
Shotput practices are led by Todd Cobin, coach of the LRHS throwing team. Cobin has been training with Gibson since the beginning of her journey as a track and field athlete.
“My first thought about Halle was…how quickly she was able to pick up the technical aspects of the throw,” said Cobin. “She’s very connected and aware of where she is in space, so I was just really impressed with her ability to learn the moves so quickly.”
“This is a kid that when we have early morning practices, she is there. After she’s done [practicing] an hour and a half of soccer, she’s coming by shotput to throw. Before her games, she’s out to throw…if we’re in the weight room, she’s in there lifting hard and heavy,” said Cobin.
As track & field continues into the culmination of the season, Gibson hopes to advance past conference by earning her place at the NCHSAA 4A East Regional track & field meet on May 13. Athletes must reach a qualifying mark in order to be admitted into the meet, or fall into the top sixteen performers in the region if not enough athletes reach the qualifying mark.
“This season, I would love to qualify [for regionals], and if not qualify, then just make it to regionals,” Gibson said. “Next season, I want to go to states for indoor and have the same goal for outdoor.”
Hi, I’m Clara. I’m a co-founder of Leesville’s Earth & Sustainability Club and a Varsity member of the Track & Field team.