Her mind’s on throwing

By Jim Fuller jfuller@civitasmedia.com

May 9, 2014

Today will mark Samantha Welborn’s third consecutive trip to a state track and field championship at North Carolina A&T.

Her personal bests in the shot put (38 feet even) and the discus (113 feet, nine inches) were set a the 2A state meet a year ago. That was until the 1A Midwest regionals last week. She threw the discus 116 feet, two inches to take the regional title.

Last year, Samantha was third in the shot put and tied for second in the discus. Even if the Rams had remained in 2A, the shot and discus titles were well within her reach.

The daughter of Mark and Teresa Welborn of Boonville, Samantha grew up the only daughter among four children.

A knee injury sustained two weeks after the state meet a year ago is almost in the rearview mirror. She tore her anterior, medial, and posterior cruciate ligaments as well as her meniscus. It’s been a long way back. She was just able to start throwing when practice for the 2014 season began a little more than two months ago.

She is still thinking about it. “It’s hard to be confident in it,” she said. “It’s getting better.”

Starmount Coach Emily Curtis said Samantha’s attitude has been helpful.

“She’s just a sweetheart,” Curtis said. “She’s always positive. It’s always been hard to get her down. She’s always able to bounce back.”

The throwing is a result of her strength. It didn’t come easy. It was the result hard work and “hanging out” with an older brother.

“I’ve always been known for being strong,” she said. “I used to work out with my brothers.” Samantha said she worked out a lot with Mason Wlbon. Curtis said Samantha holds the women’s bench press record at Starmount at 195.

Her friends talked her into throwing, but she said her reaction was “I didn’t want to be one of those fat people who spin around. But I’ve enjoyed it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Her first time out — as an eighth-grader — she won the shot put. When she arrived at the high school, the discus didn’t come so easy. “I was horrible,” she said. “It would go every which way.”

“I remember when she was a sophomore,” Curtis said. “She was taking it seriously. I told her, ‘do you know you can throw in college?’ No one had ever told her this.

“She realized then that not only could she do it well, she could do it in college. She put in her effort. She put in her time. She just blossomed.”

Samantha shook off a poor showing at conference in the discus to throw her personal best in the regional meet. She said she released her first two early. She was told one of them — had it been good — would have been 120 feet.

“My last one,” she said with a laugh, ” I power threw. It didn’t go very far.”

She said she learned something from the experience and it paid off at the regionals. “Don’t think about anything,” she said. “Just think about what you’re doing.”

“Some kids might not recover from that,” Curtis said. “She knew what she didn’t want to do again.”

She calls her grandparents “Mama Jewel” and “Papa.” They are Jewel and Marion Welborn of Boonville. They live just a couple of stones’ throws from where Samantha was born and raised.

“My grandparents have really influenced me to go far,” she said. “They’ve really set high standards.”

Samantha has signed to throw at Appalachian State. She’ll begin attending the Boone campus this fall.

“I get more excited every single day,” Samantha said of becoming a Mountaineer. “I love the team. Honestly, it’s like a family.”

She doesn’t know yet what she will study. “I’m still undecided,” she said. “Something with health exercise; special ed. My mind’s everywhere.”

Except when she’s throwing.

Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.