When the discus landed, Cion Hicks knew the throw was good.
But the Shoemaker senior knew better than to take anything for granted.
Yes, this was supposed to be her year; her time to shine. But the spotlight — the one cased in gold —always seemed to elude the Baylor signee.
The discus hit the grass with a clunk and skidded a few feet before coming to a stop. The board at the UIL State Track and Field Championships flashed and the official called out — 160 feet, six inches.
At the time it was nearly 18 feet farther than anyone else. Still, she was cautious in her optimism.
“It felt great, but I also had to make sure that my mind stayed humble because you don’t want to get high on a pedestal and then something happens and it’s all gone,” Hicks said. “I think I prepared myself throughout the year, knowing that, yes, I’m seeded first, but you never know what can happen at any time.”
In the end, though, everyone else was relegated to second place. Hicks won the 5A girls discus by nearly 10 feet. She was easily the best in the field.
So why was Hicks cautious? Because she knew the feeling of taking home a silver medal and while always full of smiles, she hungered for something better.
Hicks placed second behind current Texas A&M star Shelbi Vaughan in both the 5A girls discus and shot put as a junior. Vaughn set state and national records with her throws. Afterward, Hicks could only smile and aim for next year.
“I hope so … I can only hope to do my best,” she said after earning the pair of silver medals last year. “Hopefully it will be the year of Cion Hicks. That would be great.”
Saturday again at the University of Texas, with two gold medals clanking around her neck as she left the medal stand, Hicks had fulfilled the promise and relegated everyone to second place.
She won two gold medals — Shoemaker’s first medals in any sport since 2005. The school, thanks to an impressive comeback by Johnny Jefferson to lead the Grey Wolves’ 800-meter relay to a gold medal, has a total of four gold medals in its history. Half of those belong to Hicks, who also has a slew of silver in the trophy case at her house.
“It’s good, it’s a blessing to come back and take it all,” Hicks said. “Being there last year and missing it by a little bit, it just makes you a little hungry and I’m full, I’m full ... of gold.”
Yes, Saturday was Hick’s time to shine. It did not matter if the UIL had scheduled her two events back to back and she would have little to no rest in between.
Hicks emerged Saturday like Clark Kent when he sheds his glasses and becomes his alter ego, Superman. Like Superman, Hicks didn’t really need her glasses either — she got contact lenses two weeks ago.
“It actually did (help) because I got to see where it landed,” Hicks said. “I never knew where it landed when I threw, but this time I knew.
“(Before), I always took them off, because if they fell off it was a scratch.”
Her run to dominance was not without its close calls. She did not blow away the field — at least not in the shot put.
Lauryn Caldwell of Dickinson threw a 46-3½ in her final throw in the shot put. The distance bested Hicks, who had been leading with a 45-2½, by more than a foot.
Knowing she had to dig down deeper to win the gold medal, Hicks came through. Her final throw hit the ground with a thud 47 feet and nine inches away from her.
“I just had to say this is going to be a different story,” Hicks said. “So I just crouched down, I prayed to Jesus and I went up and I just threw. I think my technique; everything kind of came together when it was supposed to. … I wanted the gold — I had a hunger to win it so bad. So I had to do what I had to do, perform like I was supposed to perform.”
And she did. For once her throw was not just good.
It was golden.
Contact Nick Talbot at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569