As Myers Park’s Bryanna Hames walked into the discus circle for the final throw of her renowned Mustang career at the Class 4A state championships on May 17, she knew all her training, hard work and dedication to be the state’s best came down to this one moment.
“Clearly by the time I went up for my last throw I knew that I had won,” Hames said. “That was a great feeling, but winning states didn’t achieve the goal that I wanted – I wanted to break the (state) record.”
Hames, who already owned the best throw in the state this season, stepped into the circle, gathered herself and let loose her final throw as a Mustang. As she walked from the circle she put her head down and walked toward the distance marker patiently awaiting the official measurement.
“After I released I didn’t know if it was going that far, because you can’t really see the lines,” she said. “I had confidence and thought that I did well, but as I started walking out I was saying ‘Don’t get your hopes up.’”
When the official distance was announced, Hames was overcome with emotion as the new all-time N.C. girls discus record holder and the 2014 South Charlotte Weekly Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“When they called out 159 (feet) 1 (inch) I fell to the ground and it was insane, especially because it was the last throw. It was mind blowing,” said Hames, who had broken former Harding and Florida State thrower Kamorean Hayes’ 2006 record of 155 feet, 3 inches. “I’ve thrown 159-5, but I‘d never thrown that far at a prestigious meet like that, so it was the confidence booster for me.
“To not do it would have been disappointing, I’ve worked toward this all year. My goal was to break the state record and to get first at states and to do it is amazing.”
As Hames celebrated, her favorite reaction in a sea of congratulatory high fives and well wishes was from her throws coach, Geoff Emerson, who had put in countless hours working with her to reach her final high school goal.
“I’m big on high fives, so to get so many that day was all worth it,” Hames said. “But (Emerson) came to me and said ‘I’m so proud of you,’ and that just meant so much. It’s not just my hard work, it’s his hard work because he puts in just as much time as I do and he’s teaching me so much. It was just like I’m glad that I got to show him all that I could do with all that he’s taught me.”
But Hames, who has signed to throw in college at Elon University, isn’t stopping with this milestone. She’s already won the prestigious New Balance Outdoor Nationals, throwing 155-05 on June 15, and has her eyes set on achieving even greater feats in the coming years.
“I know my 160s and 160-plus are coming. I’m looking forward to breaking the barrier of getting into the 160s and seeing how far I can go,” Hames said.
And while it’s been a long journey filled with relentless training and mastering the nuances of the sport she’s grown to love, Hames said all of the hard work is more than worth it.
“To me, there’s nothing like the feeling of competition and winning and knowing that you put in all of this work and it was well deserved,” she said. “Nobody can compare to that, so the training was well worth it.”
And as Hames leaves Myers Park as the state’s all-time discus champion and starts her career at Elon, she’s leaving the high school ranks with a flood of fond memories. But what she’s learned will stick with her and serve her well at the next level.
“I’m proud of all that I accomplished, but mostly mastering my technique – I’m a student of the sport now,” she said. “I didn’t used to know your right foot needs to turn a little longer or you need to stay in this position a little longer. Now I get that and it’s a reason I can throw so far.
“I’ve become passionate and I love what I do. In the beginning I was doing it for fun, and that I’ve made something of myself, I’m in the record books and I’m going to college for it, it’s pretty inspiring.”