The silver earrings laid on the concrete outside one of the Shoemaker shot put ring for the longest time before Cion Hicks claimed them.
“I must have left them here when I was working out, yesterday,” said Hicks Thursday.
The 5A discus and shot put state champion is still working, despite completing her high school career nearly four weeks ago at the state track meet.
Sunday, at Shoemaker’s graduation, she’ll deliver a speech about conquering fear to achieve greatness, one she’ll practice on a plane-ride back from Chicago Sunday morning.
Hicks was one of 24 male and female throwers from around the country to be invited to the 3rd annual Chicagoland Throwers Challenge on Saturday in Chicago. In addition, the challenge will also include shot put, javelin and hammer competitions.
Hicks is one of four graduating senior girls who will be competing against elite-level discus throwers, including three-time Olympian Aretha Thurmond.
“When (Shoemaker track) coach (Kevin) Ellison showed me the email, I was like, ‘OK, cool’ — I just thought it was like an exhibition thing. But, when I found out it was going to be Olympians there, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is going to be amazing,’” Hicks said. “I’m going to look at it as a learning experience — there’s no need to be nervous, just go out there and throw. They’re there to help you out and show you techniques. Being next to Olympians who do what you want to do when you get older, everybody doesn’t get that opportunity. So, getting that opportunity is just a big ‘ol blessing.”
Making her third-straight state track meet appearance, Hicks won her first gold medals in the shot put and discus. She won the shot put with a 47-foot, 9-inch throw and the discus with a 160-6 that she marked on just her second attempt in the event.
In Chicago, she’ll be competing with two girls she beat in both events at the state meet — Los Fresnos’ Corina Cox and Dickinson’s Lauryn Caldwell. Cox finished second in discus and ninth in the shot put while Caldwell was second in shot and third in discus. Jessica Woodard, a senior from New Jersey, is the fourth discus participant.
“I think it’s good because we’re all there to grab and learn something,” Hicks said. “Knowing that you’re familiar with them, it relaxes you a little bit more and I know I’m going to be rooming with one of the girls that competed at state. ... It lets you have a little bit of fun. If you’re only there for business, it loses your passion.”
But competing with other girls her own age is just one of the perks. The best part of the experience, Hicks said, is competing with professional track athletes.
In addition to Thurmond, a member of the United States’ Olympic team in 2004, 2008 and 2012, Gia Lewis-Smallwood, a member of the 2012 team, will also be there competiting. Also, Liz Podomonick, Whitney Ashley and Jere Summers, who all have a personal-best mark of at least 195 feet.
They’ll only have a day together, so Hicks is going to soak up as much of the experience as she can.
“In that day, I get to observe how they throw, how they warm up, how they go about things,” Hicks said. “Some people don’t even get to see these people, so that day, I can just get a whole bunch of things — if I get to just say, ‘Hi,’ I’m just excited. It also gives you that drive because they’re where you want to be.”
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562