Every time Emily Mikoud threw the shot, Sarah Cox was nervous. A Waterville Senior High School sophomore, Cox was sitting on the top throw of the Class B state championship meet. Mikoud, of Foxcroft Academy, was Cox’s closest competition.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” Cox said.

If Cox was nervous, her throwing coach, Matt Gilley, didn’t see it.

“I’m sweating bullets, and she’s over there all smiles,” Gilley said. “She’s bulletproof from the neck up.”

As the throwers worked their way through their three final throws, the tension built for Cox until Mikoud’s final throw. When she wasn’t able to surpass Cox, the Purple Panther was finally able to relax. Throwing the shot for her final attempt was like throwing away all the stress of the competition.

“It was like, what can I do next?” Cox said.

Cox’s best throw in the shot put at the state meet was 38 feet, 7.25 inches, a quarter-inch better than Mikoud’s top throw. That slim margin gave Cox her first state title. Along with her win in the shot put, Cox placed second in the discus at the Class B state meet. She was a double winner in the shot put and discus at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship as well.

For her efforts, Sarah Cox is the Morning Sentinel Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Also considered were Kiana Letourneau of Lawrence and Avery Brennan of Messalonskee.

“She’s a hard-working kid,” Waterville head track and field coach Ted Brown said. “I’m not a throwing expert, but I know hard work when I see it.”

Cox made the shot throw that won the state title on her third throw of the first round. As she waited for the start of the finals, Cox misheard the starting order and thought Mikoud was ahead of her. Once that mistake was resolved, the tense back and forth of Cox trying to make a better throw, while at the same time hoping Mikoud does not, began.

“Is she going to get another half-inch on one of her throws,” Cox remembered thinking. “I think one of her throws was 38-3. It was very close.”

While Cox was nervous, one of her strengths as a competitor is her ability to stay on task, Brown said.

“She has incredible focus,” Brown said.

As she prepares to throw, Cox will listen to music. Cox has no go-to song or artist.

“Whatever’s on the radio. It’s something to get the distractions away,” she said.

With her state championship in the shot put, Cox joins a line of strong Waterville throwers, including recent graduates Trever Gray and Rachael Bergeron, who is now a standout thrower at the University of Maine.

“It’s a great honor,” Cox said. “Last year, I looked up to Trever Gray, watching him throw and learning his technique.”

With two more years to throw in high school, Brown thinks Cox is only starting to scratch her potential. Cox’s dedication to the sport, as well as coaching she receives from Gilley, should lead to even better and better throws in the coming years, Brown said.

“She’s only a sophomore and I believe she’s still getting to know what her body can do,” Brown said.

Added Gilley: “She’s got all the tools. Her technique and strength are really there. As she increases her speed, I have no idea what the ceiling could be.”

Cox already has a shot put distance she’d like to reach by the end of the next indoor track and field season.

“I really want to hit 40 feet indoors. By the end of the season, that’s my goal,” Cox said. “I love throwing. It’s something I love doing.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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