Cssandra Laios has her sights set on making a better showing in the Gary Smith Invitational than last year.
The junior thrower for the Thomas Worthington High School girls track and field team heads into the home meet on Saturday, May 4, coming off a strong performance in the Comet Relays on April 27 at Amherst Steele.
Laios placed third in the shot put in the Comet Relays with a throw of 35 feet, 4 3/4 inches. The throw fell a quarter inch shy of her personal best (35-5), which she set April 13 in the Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North.
The program record in the shot put is 39-2, set by Ally Wilson in 1984.
"Last year, the only thing I remember (about the Gary Smith Invitational) was that I threw the shot out (of bounds) and almost hit someone," Laios said. "Hopefully, that won't happen this time. But I'm really looking forward to the meet because it's our only one at home this year. I'm kind of excited for that."
Last year in the Gary Smith Invitational, Laios finished sixth in the discus (101-2) and 12th in the shot put (29-7), as the girls team scored 48.5 points to place sixth behind champion Solon (129) as 15 teams scored.
The boys team finished fifth (67.5) in the meet a year ago behind champion Solon (130) as 17 teams scored.
"Cassandra is just so consistent, always throwing the shot 33 to 35 feet," coach Andy Cox said. "She came into the season strong and ready to go. She's a competitive swimmer, so she is strong and has a good aerobic base."
Laios competed in the 100-yard freestyle and the 100 backstroke for the girls swimming and diving team this past winter. She teamed with Abby Weit, Maren Reeder and Kaylee Witkiewicz to finish 10th in the 400 free relay (3 minutes, 35.06 seconds) in the Division I state meet in February.
"I have been swimming for a long time and I use (that sport) to help strengthen myself, especially my legs," Laios said. "Making the turns and pushing off with my legs helps strengthen my legs, and that helps with the power in my legs when I throw."
Laios began competing in track and field in 2009. It didn't take long for the shot put to become her favorite event.
"I went out for track in the seventh grade and the shot always interested me," she said. "I used to run the open 400 (meters) and the 400 relay, but now I just throw.
"I prefer the shot more than the discus. You can have good days and bad days, but I think the shot is less dependent on the weather. If it rains, the disc can slip out of your hand or the wind can have an effect on it, but the shot is heavier and just goes through that."
Laios set her personal best in the discus (103-2) last year in the district 2 meet at Hilliard Darby. She threw 102-0 in the Comet Relays to place eighth.
"A lot of it has to do with getting your technique right with the discus, especially if you want to get power on it," she said. "Some days it just clicks because your technique is there."
Cox expects Laios to continue to improve.
"Cassandra has been a lot more competitive this season and she really works at it. She has been doing well in central Ohio and did well against some good competition (last) weekend (in the Comet Relays).
"She's also a 4.0 (GPA) student, so she is a true student-athlete. She makes sure her academics come first. That shows in the classroom and on the field as well."