Grand Forks girl wins national discus title
GRAND FORKS—With one attempt left at the USA Track & Field Hershey National Junior Olympic Championships, Grand Forks 15-year-old Shelby Frank knew she needed her best discus throw.
"I was thinking I had to throw it farther than I ever had before in order to win," Frank said. "I didn't think. I just threw. I was surprised."
Frank's final throw—a personal-best throw by 6 feet of 161 feet, 2.75 inches—won the national meet at the Girls 15-16 championship last weekend in Lawrence, Kan.
The throw was a meet record.
Frank finished second at this meet a year ago in the 13-14 age division and her marks have continued to improve.
Frank, already a two-time North Dakota state Class A discus champ, will be a sophomore at Grand Forks Red River.
"My seventh grade to eighth grade, and my eighth to ninth numbers have just kept going," Frank said. "I'm super happy with it. I hope it doesn't stop. I just want to continue to get better and beat my own record at this point in time."
Frank beat Faith Bender of California, who threw 160-7.
Frank was in the lead heading into finals with her best throw at 155-9, but Bender beat that to start finals.
Frank, though, won the meet on her third and final throw in the finals.
Veteran Grand Forks throws coach Lee Baker said it was a credit to Frank's competitive nature.
"She's getting older and stronger, but she's also learning how to compete," Baker said.
Baker said this year has been a different experience for Frank because she's had to adjust from chasing down better opponents to setting the pace herself.
"She's super talented," Baker said. "There's still things to get better at and that's a great thing at this point."
Baker said it's typically difficult for high-end throwers to hit personal-best marks in the summer because training cycles dictate that athletes peak in the spring for high school meets.
"The fact that keeps getting them is remarkable," Baker said. "That leads you to believe there's still stuff there to improve on. It's really fun."
Baker works with Frank and other local throwers almost every weekday in the summer.
"Lee is amazing," Frank said. "I couldn't be anywhere without him."
Frank has already moved into North Dakota's Top 10 all-time high school discus throws.
The list is dominated by Grand Forks throwers as the top eight all-time marks are either Grand Forks Red River or Central names.
Frank would have the 10th best throw all-time at 161-2.
The best throw ever in the state came from Briona Reynolds of Red River at 179-1 in 1999. Frank's mother, Stephanie Wigness of Red River, holds the state's No. 6 all-time mark at 164-10 in 1995.