McKenna Debity returned to the state competition after stepping into a role she was not familiar with a year ago.

A runner down, Debity ran as an alternate for Coach Barry Carroll and Tellico in 2021’s Girls’ 4x800 Meter Relay. The Lady Bears placed 12th out of 15 schools.

Now, Debity competed in the events that are more her speed — placing seventh in the state in both shot put and discus throws.

In the heat of May 25’s midday, Debity started with a 26 feet, 9 inches before 27-09 in her second and her podium distance of 29-11.5.

“I have always thrown both, so I have kind of been used to (transitioning between the two). For shot put, a lot of the girls competing were bigger. I feel like it is more brute strength than discus which is more technique,” Debity said. “You have to have strength for both techniques, but for shot put you have to rely more on strength.”

Debity’s 84-06 in her first discus throw was her finished distance. The senior Tennessee Wesleyan signee threw 82-09 in the second attempt, fouled on the third and ended the day with an 80-06.

“Discus is mainly feet work and the spinning — it is a little more complicated than shot put,” Debity said. “I was trying to look at the girls who were ahead of me and noticing if they were getting lower to the ground or if she was gliding faster.

“Each throw I tried to do a little better and to take some techniques from the others, but, overall, I tried to do what I normally do. What I have been doing for this long has worked and it got me there.”

Debity became the first Lady Bear to compete in a field event at the state competition since Carroll took over the program.

“I had nothing to lose at this competition,” Debity said. “I have worked for years to finally get here, and (Carroll’s) advice to me was to do what I regularly do.”

Though she had not competed in field events at the state level, Debity said she was able to use her experience from running in track and cross country state competitions to navigate the pressure and challenges of the day.

“I was able to use my former knowledge from being at state. It may not be the same event, but I knew not to psych myself out,” Debity said.

“I think that experience carries over. I think the magnitude of the event was not too big for her. She experienced last year in the 4x800 and with cross country at the state level,” Carroll added. “She was thrilled to compete in her main events.”

Debity, who Carroll described as a “self-taught” thrower, was only one of two East Tennessee representatives in the two events. West Greene’s Abbey Cox joined her.

“I think it is crazy (to realize that). There are so many good throwers out there and somehow I was one of the ones who made it. I am very proud of myself for that too, because I know how long I have worked for this,” Debity said. “I would not have been one of those two girls if it was not for my coaches pushing me and encouraging me to get better.”

Whitney Houston, from CUS of Libera in Memphis, won gold in the discus with 108-5. Cox earned silver while Alvin C. York Institute’s Reese Beaty captured a bronze medal.

Watertown’s Riley Jo Gardner finished fourth, followed by York Institute’s Beaty and Watertown’s Jaleigh Robertson. Khia German, of Union City, finished eighth.

Beaty won gold in the shot put with a 42-08.25 distance, followed by Union City’s Destiny Kenton in second and bronze-medalist Destiny Poole of Pearl-Cohn.

Charlize Williams of Memphis Trezevant finished in fourth place followed by Cox in fifth and York Institute’s Gabby Beaty in sixth.

Kyndal Hill of Memphis Middle College finished eighth.

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