By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
WACO - Only able to make out relative shapes and colors behind a blurry haze that is life without her glasses, Cion Hicks was at the mercy of the judges.
Bending over just outside the throwing pit, the Shoemaker junior waited in agony as officials conferred around the measuring tape Saturday at the Region II-5A track and field meet at the Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex.
"Do you know the (meet) record is 151-11?" a judge asked.
"Yes, sir," Hicks answered.
Looking back at his paper once more as if to make sure his eyes weren't deceiving him, playfully taking his time, the lead judge bellowed out what the assembled crowd had been waiting to hear: "One hundred and seventy feet."
With those five words, a wide-eyed Hicks broke into a dead sprint, pumping her knees as she made a beeline for her biggest fan. Embracing her mother, Bernadette, around the neck, with their cheeks gently nestled side-by-side, the moment finally caught up with Hicks as tears streamed down her face.
"It just seemed like all the work I'd been doing was paying off, all the hurting, everything is starting to pay off at the right moment," Hicks said.
"Hearing that 170, and crying, and then seeing her, and she was crying, I couldn't take it. But it was just confirmation that the move I made (choosing track over basketball) was the right move."
Hicks' career-best throw of 170 feet secured a second-straight state berth in the girls discus, winning her second gold in as many days as she easily swept both throwing events. The toss also placed Hicks second in the nation this season, trailing defending 5A state champion Shelbi Vaughan of Mansfield Legacy, who threw a 191-6 at the Texas Relays late last month.
Despite throwing into a strong wind, Hicks had already cleared 150-9 in the preliminaries, and was more than 20 feet ahead of the next closest competitor.
But on her second finals attempt, Hicks purposely scratched when she stepped out after unleashing a high arching toss that landed several feet beyond the 149 feet marker.
"I was upset the way it went because it went straight up into the sky and the technique of the disc wasn't flat, so I didn't think it went that far," Hicks said. "So I stepped out kind of in anger."
On her final attempt, Hicks unfurled and sent the discus knifing through the air, gliding over the heads of the spotters spread around the 150-foot mark.
"I actually closed my eyes for about five seconds and I pictured myself actually being at the Shoemaker ring, and I just calmed down and threw like I was at practice and it went far," Hicks said.
At 170, Hicks' record throw was only surpassed by a single male competitor - Belton senior Levi Jordan.
Jordan equaled Hicks' toss on his first attempt of the preliminaries and then followed that up with a gold medal-winning throw of 173 feet in the boys discus.
"First place doesn't mean anything if you still get beat by a girl," Jordan said.
After finishing sixth at region last year in the same event, Jordan finally made it to state in his final opportunity.
"I was humbled yesterday in the shot put, I didn't place at all ... and I decided today I needed to come back and get some redemption, so that's what I did," Jordan said.
Jordan, who will attend UT-San Antonio as a decathlete, said he plans to enjoy the victory tonight at his senior prom, but then it's back to work on Monday.
"It's better to go to prom looking forward to going to state," he said.