Payden Montana didn't initially think it was a record.
The Berwick senior came into day one of the PIAA State Championships at Shippensburg University hoping to claim her second straight Class AAA state title in the event. But even more, she was gunning for the 21-year-old Pennsylvania state record -- 50 feet, 11 inches by East Juniata's Heather Coyler -- which stood since 1997.
It came for Montana on her third attempt, just before the finals. But the senior thrower wasn't so sure when it landed.
"It hit maybe an inch or two beyond the 50 (foot) line, so I really didn't think it was a record, but they got the tapes out and they read it," Montana said. "I was actually a little surprised."
The tape didn't lie. 51 feet even. A new all-time state record
"I came into this meet looking for that record, so to finally hit it -- before finals, even -- was a bit of a relief for me and I was really excited," she said.
Montana was building to the 51-foot mark all season long. She relished the big meet atmosphere, throwing past 50 feet for the first time in a winning effort at the Penn Relays (50 feet, 7 inches). At last week's PIAA District 2 Championships in Scranton, she was just off that, winning with a throw of 50-04.25.
That momentum continued into practice in the week and a half leading up to the state meet.
"This whole week in training, I've been hitting pretty solid marks, so I knew I was capable of a big one in this meet and I hit it," she said.
Gifted with beautiful Friday morning weather, Montana was not to be denied.
But really, Friday's 51-footer is a culmination of a full high school career for the future Penn State Nittany Lion. She progressed steadily throughout her entire career. Montana threw a best of 39-02 as a freshman before placing 18th at states. As a sophomore, she made a big leap, placing third at states with a toss of 42-06.5.
She made the move to elite status last year as a junior. At states, Montana threw 47-03 to win the AAA state crown. After a great indoor season, this spring, Montana became the best in the nation.
"I've been working for this for four years, so to finlly hit (the record) in my last state meet is so exciting," she added.
She's sits at No. 1 in the nation with her 51-foot throw, and she's the only girl in the country to have throw 50 feet or better. Next up is New Balance Nationals Outdoor, where Montana will look to solidify that top ranking.
But as far as Pennsylvania outdoor history is concerned, no one has ever been better.