With no spectators to provide a spark, Emma Callahan had to find a different source of that extra boost of adrenaline Saturday at Youngstown State.
Turns out, she didn't have to look any further than the other competitors in the final flight of the girls shot put at the cavernous and virtually empty Watson and Tressel Training Site.
Squaring off against three other members of the early season U.S. top 10, the Shenango junior got the competitive juices flowing immediately, improving on each and every throw. The final result: a new national leader and lifetime best for Callahan of 48 feet, 0.25 inches, which is good for No. 6 on PA MileSplit's all-time state indoor list.
"It is definitely a lot different (without fans due to COVID-19), but yesterday, especially, there was a lot of good competition there so that made it easier to get into the headspace because there were girls who had potential to throw equally as far as I did," Callahan said of prepping for her second consecutive Saturday meet at YSU. "I went into that where like there's good competition and you need to throw well if you want to win or beat them. I think that helped with the adrenaline and getting hyped up for it."
Callahan's latest big throw in Ohio only added 1.25 inches to her PR from a year ago, but it is the third time in her past four meets there that she has returned across the state line with a top mark of 46-feet plus.
"That was something we have definitely been working on is consistency," the junior said in reference to her series of 44-10, 46-9 and 47-5 before the US#1 heave. "Just trying to stay above the 45 (foot) mark. I don't want to say it was a rougher week in practice, but it definitely wasn't one of my strongest weeks. I just went into the meet trying not to think, and my warm-ups were looking promising."
Hempfield Area's Isabella Gera, who signed with Wake Forest in December, moved into a share of PA#2 in 2021 with a runner-up 44-5 put that was her lone mark on the afternoon. The next two in the final results also topped 41-0.
"When I was in 7th grade, throwing wasn't really my favorite sport," said Callahan, who was surprised by her current standing with the state's best putters. "It wasn't something that I considered that I could push myself to be good, but after 7th grade year, I was like 'I kind of like this. I'm kind of getting better at this.'"
Callahan is expected to return to action on Jan. 30 in the SPIRE Ohio Championship Preview. Athletes from the Buckeye state, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Canada are eligible to compete.