PITTSFIELD — Luke Preble is used to the soft thud that comes when a shot put throw lands. This time, there was a splash, as Preble’s throw found the standing water hugging the right side of the throwing pit. Moments later, when Preble, a senior at Central High School, dropped his shot to his feet as he talked to his coach, the shot wore a smear of mud.

Conditions weren’t chamber of commerce perfect for Saturday’s Husky Throwdown at Maine Central Institute. Heavy rain in the morning gave way to gray skies and wind throughout the rest of the day. Everything was dampened except the enthusiasm of the athletes competing.

“The reason I like the meet the most is, as a freshman coming into it, getting to see everyone and starting at the bottom,” Preble, the top seed in the boys shot put, said. “Now, as one of the top guys, it’s really awesome to see the different schools. Winslow, Waterville, it’s cool to see.”

Now in its fifth year, the Husky Throwdown has become an important benchmark meet for throwers from around central Maine. With schools representing Classes A, B, and C sending athletes to the meet, throwers get to test themselves against some of the best, and get a preview of some of the athletes they’ll see in a few weeks at conference and state meets.

“The best throwers from the state come around, so it’s really cool to see where I am compared to everybody else and gauge myself. It’s still early in the season, so I can work on my technique and get better,” MCI senior Christa Carr said.

Carr placed second to Waterville’s Sarah Cox in the shot put at the Class B state meet last spring, throwing approximately half a foot shorter than Cox. At the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship last season, Carr was a half-inch behind Cox. At the state meet last spring, Cox and Carr had the top two throws in the state, regardless of class. The Husky Throwdown was a chance for the rival throwers to size each other up once again.

“I know that (Cox is) my biggest competition, at least at states. For the most part, it’s comparing myself with Sarah, but there’s some other girls too. As my parents always say, there’s other people out there. It’s not just the two of you,” Carr said.

On Saturday, Cox edged Carr in the shot again, throwing 36-3.75 to Carr’s 35-4.5. Cox also won the girls discus.

Xavier Moss, an MCI junior, was the top seed in the boys discus. Moss joined the MCI track and field team last season as a sophomore, and recalled his first Husky Throwdown.

“I didn’t know anybody. Coming back this year, I know everybody, how far they used to throw and how far they throw now. It’s a good experience. I’m able to talk to them,” Moss said. “You see people from different classes. It gives me a good look at what I’ll go against at the bigger meets. It’s helping us all throw better.”

Moss said one athlete he was looking forward to seeing was Maranacook’s Ryan Worster, as they’ve thrown similar distances in the past. Worster took first in the boys shot, throwing 46-6.25. Moss took third in the shot and fifth in the discus. Messalonskee’s Sean Rodrigue won both the boys discus and javelin. The girls javelin went to Gabrielle Green of Maranacook.

To Preble, who placed fifth in the shot, the camaraderie is a drawing point to the Husky Throwdown.

“Back when I was a freshman, I remember my seniors having so much fun with the other guys. As a freshman, and being like ‘I’ll just stay over here,’ and now being a senior and talking the other guys, it’s a lot of fun,” Preble said. “The most fun thing is also the weirdest thing. Even though we’re all competing against each other, you’ll hear all the top guys in the shot put yelling ‘Yeah, good job!’ or ‘You can do it!'”

Moss said he’s shared throwing tips with competitors from other schools.

“Sometimes they come over to you and talk, (say) you should extend your leg more, or put power in your right leg,” Moss said.

For shot and discus throwers, the throwing circles were wet after the morning’s rain. Shot throwers wiped their feet on a towel before stepping into the circle for their throw. Preble said he prefers to throw on a warmer day. Moss said he was trying not to slip when going from the glide portion of his throw to planting his leg. Getting a grip on the wet shot also was difficult, Moss said.

“It’s a mental game, and physical, because you have to keep your body warm,” Carr said. “You also have to recognize it’s OK to  not be as good as you’re used to, because your body is not doing as well in the conditions. Knowing your limits in conditions like this.”

Throwing well at the Husky Throwdown is important, but not as important as the upcoming meets. With conference meets in late May and state meets on June 1, throwing your best on a cold, damp April day isn’t the focus.

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