Adrienne Alexander could hear Ed Howard’s voice in her head with each short throw.
“You got to keep your fingers closed. Get down in the circle,” the Bishop Loughlin sophomore said her throwing coach would tell her repeatedly at practice.
The shot was coming off of Alexander’s hand incorrectly throughout the trials and into the finals. It was rolling off just her ring finger and pinky instead of all of them. She heeded Howard’s words on her final throw, her best of the day, which traveled 42 feet, 8.25 inches. It was good enough to secure Alexander a third-place finish behind North Babylon’s Vanessa Stewart (47-05.25), the New York State leader, and Jasmine Burrell of Torrance North (Calif.) (44-03.50) at the Penn Relays on April 22.
“[Howard] is going to be mad when he hears that, but that time I made sure I kept my fingers closed,” Alexander said.
Ironically enough she placed third at Penn last season with a similar length throw (43-05) and again on her final attempt. Alexander joked that history repeated itself, but was happy to hit that length because it is an indication she is throwing consistently even though her adjustments finally clicked on her last attempt.
“I went fast in the circle,” she said. “The other ones I wasn’t fast enough when I was coming back. The last one I knew I had to come with more power and speed.”
St. Joseph Hill’s Amanda Spoto wasn’t sure if she would be coming back for the final.
“I didn’t want to listen at all,” the senior said. “I want to get as far away as possible.”
Spoto though heard her name called for the final group after tying for eighth place, so the field was expanded to nine. Her best throw of 40-01.50 at the end of the trials was good enough for ninth. Competing in her first Penn Relays, Spoto was happy to make to the finals.
“I just didn’t have the snap at the end. I wasn’t using my left foot when it was coming down,” Spoto said.
She will be headed to Dartmouth next fall and Penn was one of the Ivy League schools she was considering. Spota said she even ran into Penn assistant coach Tony Tenisci during the meet.
Spoto is coming off her first ever indoor season. She usually played basketball in the winter at the Staten Island school, but gave it up to concentrate more on the shot put. The extra training time, instead of being on the court six days a week, has made a difference. She won the event at the Mayor’s Cup with a toss of 41-01 and the discus with a throw of 117-11, besting Alexander.
“I was more in shape for the shot put and it helped my technique in the discus,” Spoto said.