Will Smith has been chosen as the 2015-16 All-Empire boys track and field athlete of the year. No, not the Fresh Prince of Bel Air or the San Francisco Giants’ newly acquired pitcher, but the recent Willits High School graduate who is making his own name for himself in the shot put and discus circles.
Smith dominated the Redwood Empire track and field throwing circuit this past season, often out throwing the competition by double digit lengths. Smith threw himself into the top-20 all-time throwers in the Empire and even broke the Willits High School discus record with a throw of 165.5 feet at a meet in Middletown.
Shot put and discus started out as just another athletic outlet for Smith but turned into a family affair. He started throwing in the sixth grade and when he was able to compete for his middle school track team Smith’s father Ken Smith stepped up to volunteer as the coach. He has now been Smith’s coach ever since.
“It’s really nice having him around every day on and off the field. We work a lot together at home,” Will said about his dad. “It’s nice to have someone honestly critique me and tell me when I’m doing something wrong. It really helps me get better.”
Smith was a three sport athlete for Willits, playing running back for the football team and center for the basketball team. He scored eight touchdowns last season, then averaged 12 points and six rebounds per game for the basketball team. He said playing team sports helped him in the throwing circle, not only physically but mentally.
“Im constantly training and building explosiveness during football and basketball but it also helps me prepare for the big situation,” said Smith. “There are so many big moments in football and basketball. It has helped me stay calm and focused in track. I know how to step up when I need to.”
Smith seemed to have a knack for stepping up when it mattered most.
“I just love to compete,” said Smith. “Competition can take away all the bad stuff in your life and help you focus. It can take my mind off anything.”
At the Coastal Mountain conference sectional tournament Smith scratched on his first two throws in discus. If he did not throw it far enough to place in the top eight on his third throw Smith would have been eliminated from competition and his season would have ended there.
“My head really wasn’t in it that day. After my first few throws I knew I was in trouble,” said Smith. “I knew I had to just calm down and focus.”
Smith stepped into the circle and threw a 130.4-foot moonshot, which was good enough for first place until he stepped in to throw his final discus and launched a 162.1-foot throw. The second place thrower finished 44 ft. behind Smith.
“He had so much pressure on him and he knew it. It was intense,” said his father/coach Ken Smith. “His competitive drive really takes over and he always rises to the occasion.”
Smith will attend Division I Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and throw for the track and field team.
ALL-EMPIRE: BOYS TRACK
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR Will Smith, sr., Willits, throws
FIRST TEAM Remy Barbiero, jr., Sonoma Academy, jumps Delano Bell, sr., Santa Rosa, throws Zachery Esponda, jr., Casa Grande, 800 Ian Fisher, sr., Montgomery, hurdles Paul Gorman Jr., sr., Fort Bragg, sprints Ian Herculson, sr., Maria Carrillo, sprints Scott Kruetzfeldt, soph., Maria Carrillo, distances Aaron Lu, sr., Casa Grande, 300IH Mazi Macondray, sr., Santa Rosa, jumps Luca Mazzanti, jr., Santa Rosa, distances Brendan O’Neill, soph., Petaluna, jumps Brian Schulz, jr., El Molino, distances Isaiah Smith, jr., Maria Carrillo, sprints Thomas Thomsen, jr., Montgomery, 110HH Jaymes Tischburn, soph., Montgomery, sprints Trevor Wofford, sr., Piner, hurdles
SECOND TEAM Aidan Carpenter, sr., Piner, distances Tom E, sr., Maria Carrillo, jumps Blue Growden, sr., Santa Rosa, jumps Michael Horton, sr., Santa Rosa, pole vault Skyler Ito-Lutz, jr., Piner, jumps Nicholas Iversen, sr., Ukiah, throws Joey Johnson, jr., Sonoma Academy, distances Carson Kimball, sr., Maria Carrillo, distances Ben Lawson, soph., Maria Carrillo, distances Eamon McMahon, sr., Petaluma, sprints William McTaggert, sr., Windsor, throws Severin Ramirez, fr., Maria Carrillo, sprints Sean Rollins, sr., Santa Rosa, sprints Justen Santa, jr., Petaluma, discus Ross Simmons, jr., Analy, sprints Scott Simpson, sr., Piner, shot put Chase Waddington, sr., Fort Bragg, pole vault
COACH OF THE YEAR Greg Fogg, Maria Carrillo