By Steve Breazeale
Last year’s track and field postseason could not have been more different than the one San Clemente senior thrower Rocky Fenton just had.
In 2013, Fenton decided to make a change to his discus-throwing mechanics the day before league finals. Instead of focusing on the rhythm and form that got him to that point, he doubted his new delivery and thought about throwing the discus out of the sector. He faulted on three throws and was eliminated.
In the offseason, Fenton dedicated his time to refining his form and perfecting his delivery. It started paying off in preseason invitational meets, as he racked up multiple top-3 finishes and several wins. Fenton was able to continue his upward trend late in the season, winning the South Coast League title, the CIF-SS Division 1 Championship and ultimately the CIF State Championship in the discus throw.
Fenton’s throw of 184-feet-10-inches was the best in the field at the prestigious event on June 6 in Clovis. With the meet win, Fenton became the first ever San Clemente High School individual track and field state champion.
We caught up with Fenton days after his historic win to talk about his progression, his training and what it feels like to be the top high school discus thrower in the state.
San Clemente Times: You really burst onto the scene early this year and stayed at that high level all season. How did you accomplish that?
Rocky Fenton: I switched up training and made it a lot more specific this year. I learned how to time out my meets, like knowing when to peak for meets. I learned you want to lay off the weights a little bit before the important ones. I learned a lot more about timing in that regard, like when to load the body on the weights and when to taper off.
SCT: You and teammate Kelsey Benoit both had standout years in the throws. How often did you guys train with each other? Was that a friendly rivalry?
RF: Kelsey is my best friend. We pretty much bonded over the throws. We always wanted to lift more than anyone in the weight room. Kelsey was always the biggest, strongest kid and I was always just tall and skinny. He ended up calling me a few names and I decided to challenge him in the weight room and eventually we became really good friends (laughs). We’ve always been there to push each other. I definitely would not have done anything, any of my accomplishments, if it wasn’t for him. It’s great to have someone to push on the same team.
SCT: How did you feel in the build-up to the state championships? Did you think you could make a run at the title?
RF: At league finals I think I threw over 170 consistently, that definitely got my confidence up. At CIF-SS Prelims I was nervous. I think it was kind of a bad week but I threw 173. It takes 171 to qualify for state so I knew I had that in the bag. I thought even if I didn’t perform my best I could still make it at state. At the CIF-SS Finals I went in and threw 172-09. That was the last time on the strength program and that’s when we tapered off (the weights) and the fun began.
At state prelims, my first throw was technically off but I heard people clapping. The next throw was another personal record and I was pretty stoked. Along the way it just builds up. I was getting really good training and my coaches were giving me a lot of good input. I wasn’t switching up a lot of things and I was keeping everything pretty consistent. Everything just kind of lined up.
SCT: Seems like you were feeling good heading into the finals.
RF: Yeah, but on my first throw (in the finals) I ended up fouling way to the left. After that one of my coaches told me, ‘Listen, I know you have a lot of adrenaline going, just line it up, use good technique and let it go, it will be a big throw.’ And I said, ‘I’m calm, I’m calm,’ in the most tense voice. Everyone was pretty tense. Even my mom was freaking out. My heart was pounding and I was just a little more patient with my second throw and it went well. I threw 184-10 and I had no clue it went that far. Nobody beat that mark. Just knowing you won is incredible. I pinched myself, I just couldn’t believe it. I was so crushed after last year. Just to come back and win state, it makes it so much better.
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