DES MOINES - Caitlyn Clayton's last throw at the 21014 Drake Relays propelled the Estherville Lincoln Central junior into fifth place in the girls' high school shot put on Thursday.
Clayton's best throw of the season thus far is 41 feet, 2 inches.
At Drake, Clayton's didn't have a throw over 40 feet until her last throw of the finals, where she threw 40 feet, 2 inches.
ELC’s Caitlyn Clayton takes her turn in the shot put at the 2014 Drake Relays on Thursday. Clayton was one of 24 high school competitors from around Iowa to qualify for the prestigious event.
In competing against the top 24 throwers in the state in all classes, Clayton was one of the five competitors to throw over 40 feet.
Solon junior Shelby Gunnells also saved her best throw for last as she won the event on her final throw of 42 feet, 4 1/4 inches to defeat last year's Drake champion Dasiana Larson of Garner-Hayfield/Ventura. Larson had to settle for second with a throw of 42 feet, 2 1/2 inches while Davis County junior Kate Birchmier finished third with a throw of 42 feet, 2 1/4 inches and Pocahontas Area senior Macey Bales finished fifth with a throw of 41 feet.
"It was kind of hard getting warmed up at first," said Clayton, who finished eighth as a sophomore at last year's Class 2A state meet.
Her goals for the rest of the 2014 season are to continue to beat her personal records and make it back to state.
"I think I can do well," she said. "I'm just looking to get better for my last year."
Clayton's career goal is to eventually reset the school record, which is currently held by Lorrie Grems.
While she doesn't work on the shot put in the off-season, the four-sport athlete finds other ways to get stronger.
"It definitely helps that every coach has us spend some time in the weight room," Clayton said.
Dean Truog, ELC's long-time throwing coach, was pleased with Thursday's results.
"It was successful trip," he said. "She came down and was happy with her result and I was happy too."
ELC head girls track coach Tina Burton was also happy with the results.
"We're just hoping over the next couple meets that she gets her form down so she can just come out and throw."