Track & Field: Darius Lightfoot transformed for Westland
Darius Lightfoot made quite a physical transformation during his career with the Westland boys track and field team.
He weighed approximately 130 pounds as a freshman but added about 30 pounds of muscle over the next three years, which helped him become one of the Cougars' top performers in the discus and shot put.
"To see him come in as a little, skinny freshman ... and to see him mature into who he is now, an Eagle Scout, he's a fine young man," coach Tim Eckard said. "He's a great kid, a great leader. He's everything we want from our Cougar track athletes. I've always taken a lot of pride in the throwers and try to set a good tone with all of my throwers. I expect them to be leaders of the team."
Lightfoot turned in career-best distances in both the discus (110 feet, 8 inches) and shot put (35-10 1/2) last season as a junior and expected to improve on both marks this spring. He also sought to advance in the postseason after finishing 25th in the discus (99-2) and 30th in the shot put (33-10) in the Division I, district 2 meet last year.
However, his aspirations for his senior season ended when all of spring sports were canceled by the OHSAA on April 20 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Teams had been practicing before the OHSAA initially suspended spring sports March 13.
"Within the first few practices, I was already doing better than how I ended my season last year," Lightfoot said. "I was really hoping to set some new (personal records) and challenge some other throwers this year."
Eckard said Lightfoot showed promise in the preseason and had set himself up to have a strong senior season.
"Early in the preseason with bad technique, he was going 120s (in the discus), so with the season to work with, if he would have popped up a really good one, he could have had a shot (of advancing to regional)," Eckard said. "Anything is possible in the circle."
Lightfoot also wrestled for Westland, finishing 23-14 at 160 pounds this past season after going 24-20 at 152 as a junior.
"Darius was a captain for us the past two years," wrestling coach Brent Allerding said. "He developed into a good wrestler and a good leader during that time and it will be tough to replace him next season."
Lightfoot will attend Columbus State in the fall, but hopes to be accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy or U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 2021. He plans on competing in wrestling once accepted.
"With the whole high school career in general, academics, wrestling and track, I definitely saw huge improvement, not just in academics, but character also," Lightfoot said. "I have family, friends, teachers to thank for all that. I'm really pleased with the outcome for myself."
With Gov. Mike DeWine and the OHSAA announcing May 21 that high school programs can begin individual skills training and conditioning May 26, Eckard expected to begin workouts upon gaining approval from South-Western City Schools.
"I usually have at least a few of my throwers throw over the summer, so at least I get to meet with some throwers and do some coaching," Eckard said. "Our sprint coaches will do summer workouts with our sprinters, so at least this opens it up for us to do that."