Festus’ McDonald gets her focus right on way to javelin title in home meet | Girls Track

FESTUS — Ciara McDonald likes to gather her thoughts away from the screaming masses.

When inside a stadium environment, with all the noise and chaos swirling around her, the Festus High sophomore can lose her focus.

But at the javelin throwing area Saturday morning during Festus’ McCullough-Douglas Invitational track and field meet, the serene nature of the environment helped calm the raging tempest in her mind.

“It’s actually really nice,” McDonald said. “I like to throw when it’s quiet.”

McDonald threw her way to the girls javelin title with a mark of 32.26 meters.

She was one of two throwers to break the 30-meter mark, beating Summit’s Kyleigh Villarreal (30.98 meters). 

“It was nice to get a win at home,” McDonald said. “Being a freshman last year, I was up against a lot of seniors and I had a lot of pressure. Coming out and knowing what I’m capable of throwing was nice.”

Her javelin title helped the Tigers to a first-place team finish in their home meet, edging out Rock Bridge with 96 points. 

McDonald’s victorious throw Saturday wasn’t a personal best, but for the second meet of the season, her coach said it was a good starting point.

“Under the conditions, the wind and cold, that was a good throw today,” Festus coach Jessica Ecker said. 

McDonald was talked into joining the track and field team as a freshman by Ecker, who also coaches her in basketball.

The sophomore said she has a multitude of things going through her mind as she prepares for a throw — including the attack angle of the javelin, the speed of her run and keeping her form right.

Though she’s gotten more used to throwing after a season of experience, McDonald enjoys competing in more remote areas to make sure everything’s right.

That’s especially true on a day like Saturday when a fierce wind was in her face.

“The wind wasn’t on my side this morning,” McDonald said. “I had to aim the javelin a little lower than normal to get a good distance.”

When Ecker asked her to come out for javelin last year, McDonald said she didn’t expect to fall in love with the sport as quickly as she did. She leaned on that passion and natural ability to a sectional appearance as a freshman. 

Ecker said she has seen her sophomore take a big leap forward.

“The biggest difference is that confidence,” Ecker said. “She’s seen what she can do now, it’s just carrying that over to meets.”