It came down to one last heave of the shot put for Centerville senior Michael Bennett.
Fortunately, the last one was golden.
Bennett’s final throw of 63 feet, 11 inches was enough to vault the Elks senior to a state title at the Division I state track and field meet at his future home on the Ohio State University campus.
A state championship is one of the reasons Bennett returned to the track team this spring.
“It really was one of the only reasons I did track,” Bennett said. “I wanted to be with my teammates, and I wanted to help them win a state title. Even though we didn’t win the team title, I’m happy with the season. It was the best season in Centerville track history.”
Bennett followed up his state title in the shot with a second-place finish in the discus with a toss of 185 feet, 4 inches.
“If I had gotten second in the shot, then second in the discus would not have been alright,” Bennett said. “Since I won the shot put, finishing second in the discus was OK.”
Bennett, known more for his prowess on the Elks football team, believes that throwing the shot and discus in the spring helps him in the fall on the football field.
“I think it helped me with my balance, controlling my temper and working through adversity,” Bennett said. “I think I got stronger through track season.
“We lift in the summer for football, but we work the muscles a lot differently in track. The coaches are always going to clinics and learning different ways to lift and that has helped. Plus, we are working the muscles when they are rested.”
Not a bad end to a season for someone who contemplated not competing in the spring.
“I was going through a little question of should I or not,” Bennett said of the off-season between football and track. “I had thought about just getting ready for football.
“All in all, having a chance at a state championship, I couldn’t turn it down. I figured that I could still be ready for Ohio State and win a state championship.”
Bennett wasn’t alone in his thoughts of skipping his second sport to get ready for major college football. Kyle Rose, who’s headed to West Virginia, had toyed with not wrestling, but decided to compete and claimed a state title.
What if Bennett had not won a title?
“He (Rose) wouldn’t let me live that down,” Bennett said with a laugh.
Recent events at Ohio State have not dampened Bennett’s enthusiasm about becoming a Buckeye football player.
Head coach Jim Tressel resigned and a NCAA investigation is ongoing over improper benefits for players, but Bennett has been steadfast in his commitment.
“It didn’t make me rethink things at all,” Bennett said. “I am going to go and make the best of it. I don’t think it will affect the team in a negative way at all.”
Part of the reason Bennett’s thoughts haven’t changed go back to the reason he picked the Buckeyes.
“I liked the balance there,” Bennett said. “They balance academics and football and they care about the players ... and it is close to home.”
The fact that Bennett will be working with a whole new group of teammates hit him during the track banquet at the end of the school year.
“It was a really weird thought. That was my last Centerville function,” Bennett said. “I have grown up playing football and doing track with them, and forming a lot of friendships and now I will have to form bonds with new teammates. It was a sad thought, but an interesting one.”
Bennett admits that when he entered high school he did not believe he would have so much success, He credits hard work and listening to his coaches as keys to his success.
“It is amazing how much I accomplished,” he said. “My freshman year, I didn’t have the size and there were a lot of kids more gifted than I was. I have to credit the coaches for a lot.
“I look back on everything, and I am really happy with it.”