By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Leah Dusterhoft figured it would take a throw of at least 135 feet to win the Drake Relays discus title.
She also thought she could make it through Thursday’s awards ceremony tear-free.
Dusterhoft was wrong on both and the West High senior couldn’t have been happier about it.
In her third appearance in the Drake Relays discus Dusterhoft won the first title of her career with a toss of 129-3.
“I thought I was going to be done crying and then he handed me the flag and then I was like ‘this is real’,” Dusterhoft said through tears of joy. “I’m just very happy.”
The title was a long time coming for Dusterhoft who was 10th in the event at the Drake Relays as a sophomore and seventh last season.
A three-time state medalist, Dusterhoft had never finished better than fifth in the event at state or Drake before Thursday.
“She absolutely is a student of the discus, loves it, it’s her thing she works on it 12 months out of the year and I’m just so proud of her and happy for her,” West High coach Mike Parker said. “There will be a bunch of Drake Relays champions over the next three days but I just can’t imagine there is somebody that has worked harder and wanted it more than her.”
Dusterhoft became the second girl in West High history to win a Drake Relays discus title and the first since Taylor Freeman won three in a row from 2006 to 2008.
“I think it will give her a little bit of confidence but I think it will give a little relief too just because he has been working so hard,” West High throwing coach Danica Haight said. “She is probably the hardest worker I have coached in my six years.”
Dusterhoft entered Thursday’s competition with the ninth best throw in the state this season at 130-1.
She didn’t reach that mark on a sunny afternoon outside Drake Stadium in Des Moines but it didn’t matter.
Dusterhoft’s toss of 129-3 was four inches better than runner-up Kenzie Sullivan of Pocahontas Area.
“I thought a good 135 would win it,” Dusterhoft said. “It was good competition and it was a whole lot of fun. I don’t think anyone today got the mark they wanted but it was a good day.”
Entering competition on Thursday less than five feet separated the top qualifying from the eighth qualifier.
It ended just as close with five athletes throwing between 126-9 and Dusterhoft’s winning toss of 129-3.
“I knew it was going to be a really tight event because there were 12 girls within four feet and discus anything can go,” Haight said. “I know how consistent Leah is with her throws I thought there was a pretty high chance she could do it.”
Dusterhoft took the lead with a toss of 129-0 on her second attempt and never gave it up.
Her winning throw of 129-3 came on her second to last attempt.
“After my first throw out of bounds getting that 129 that was a very good starting point,” Dusterhoft said. “I was able to throw a lot more relaxed. Today it wasn’t the mark that I wanted but it got me what I wanted so it’s fine.”
City High senior Luci Murphy finished 11th in her Drake Relays debut with a toss of 118-11.