Southern's Bland working toward postseason goals
Tiara Bland is undefeated this track and field season in the discus and the reigning Cape Fear Valley Conference and 3A Mideast Region champion.
Each day, whether at practice or in a meet, is about repeating those two postseason titles and adding a state championship to her senior season.
So even though it was during practice behind the grandstands of the Southern Lee football stadium on Wednesday afternoon, when she spun and launched a throw in the neighborhood of 120 feet it brought a big smile to her face and impromptu cheers and congrats from her Cavalier discus teammates.
"Every day the aim is to get better, that's the goal," Bland said. "We're trying to build on last year, add about 10 to 15 feet to where I was and it's just about moving forward today. It was a good day for everyone today."
Bland is quick to share credit with coaches and teammates, and turn something seemingly as individualized as competing in the discus into a team sport.
"My teammates help me get better every day. They help me feel better about myself," she said.
Bland was one of seven Cavs working on their discus technique Wednesday afternoon.
"If you think of what you're doing out here too much as an individual, you can get stuck in your own mind," said Bland. "Everyone on the team just has a real good vibe and I think it helps."
If Bland can combine the right technique and a positive vibe into a 120-foot throw in a meet, it'll be about nine feet better than her personal-best, which came when she finished fourth in the NCHSAA 3A State Championships last May. Jacksonville then-senior Lyssa Wallace O'Neill won the 2012 state championship with a throw of 117-4.
Bland, a three-year Lady Cavalier basketball veteran, goes right from hoops to track season each year. It's a challenge but lots of wind sprints and being an all-around athlete carries over well from basketball to discus.
As a freshman, she came out for Cavalier track as a sprinter. While she still runs the 200 meters in some meets, giving the discus a try as a freshman has turned into a championship-level idea.
The technique needed to reach elite marks with a discus is unique, even compared to its close field relative, the shot put. It takes strength, balance, quickness and concentration, Bland said.
"When you get a good throw off, it's magic. When you get a good one, it's effortless. It just sails," Bland said.
Even while Bland's 4-for-4 winning meets this spring, a mark around 120 feet would be about 13 feet than her season-best, 106-11 to win a CFVC meet at Overhills on March 28.
Southern Lee has a rarity for a track schedule on deck next week: a pair of home meets within three days.
The Cavaliers will host Lee County for a county meet - just recently added to the Cav and Jacket schedules - on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Southern Lee will host Gray's Creek and Westover for a CFVC regular season meet on Thursday starting at 4:30 p.m.
Next week is the last prep for the postseason for the Cavaliers. The Cape Fear Valley Conference Championship is set for April 24-25 at Union Pines.