Today's Area sectionals
North Side, 5:30 p.m.
Teams: Carroll, Churubusco, Blackhawk Christian, Bishop Dwenger, Concordia, Northrop, North Side, Snider, South Side, Leo, Woodlan
New Haven, 5 p.m.
Teams: Adams Central, Bellmont, Bishop Luers, Canterbury, Wayne, Heritage, Homestead, Huntington North, New Haven, South Adams
East Noble, 5 p.m.
Teams: Angola, Central Noble, DeKalb, East Noble, Eastside, Fremont, Garrett, Hamilton, Lakeland, Prairie Heights, West Noble, Westview
Goshen, 5:30 p.m.
Teams: Bethany Christian, Columbia City, Concord, Elkhart Central, Elkhart Christian, Elkhart Memorial, Fairfield, Goshen, Jimtown, Lakeland Christian, Northridge, NorthWood, Warsaw, Wawasee
Marion (at Indiana Wesleyan), 5:30 p.m.
Teams: Alexandria, Bluffton, Blackford, Eastbrook, Elwood, Frankton, Marion, Mississinewa, Northfield, Norwell, Oak Hill, Southern Wells, Southwood, Wabash
Senior Curtis Blackwell is a big guy who throws big when it counts for Norwell.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle in football has transferred his competitive nature on the field to success in the shot put and discus.
Blackwell, a Ball State football recruit, finished 10th at state in the shot put last year, one spot off the podium, with a throw of 51 feet, 71/2 inches. His quest to return to the state finals starts at today's sectional championships.
“I was able to go to state last year and place higher than the year before (25th),” Blackwell said. “That's motivated me to get better this year.
“I won sectionals last year and am coming off the conference championships for shot put. It's a little bit of pressure on my back, but I feel like it pushes me a little harder in practice.”
His goal for today at the sectional is a personal best of 55 feet in the shot put and eventually just finish higher at state, making the podium.
Blackwell started throwing in seventh grade at the suggestion of his father.
“My dad told me I ought to try it since I wasn't doing anything else,” he said. “I tried everything that year, wrestling included, and I liked (track) after that.
“I've been a part of the Norwell track team ever since, and it's just been a great time, learned a lot and made a lot of great memories.”
Blackwell is coming off a Northeast Eight championship in the shot where he threw 54-101/2, eighth in the state, according to Indiana Runner.
For much of the season, he's had to rely on his own strength and mental resolve to throw his best.
“He's been a lot more aggressive in meets,” coach Adam Prater said. “Wherever we go, there's not really anyone who can push him so he has to push himself. He's definitely been more aggressive in that, trying to hit his marks, trying to consistently be 52 or 53 feet, not down in to the 40s at all.
“He knows he has to compete for a spot, and he shows up in those pressure situations and that's good in the conference, sectional or regional. Last year in the sectional, it came down to him in his last throw (in discus) to make it to the finals, he came and he performed. He shows up in the big spots.”
Prater said Blackwell is able to provide a lot of teachable moments for the team.
“The younger guys here see him being successful and competing and achieving those goals,” Prater said. “So now those guys make goals for themselves, writing it on their hands or their shoes, wherever they can see it. It's good leadership for this group.
“Anytime you make any little mistake, it just helps you teach – 'This is what I need to fix, this is what I need to get better.' We dropped from a possible third or fourth place (at the conference meet) to seventh because one person doesn't score. That's a teachable moment because they all see that everybody needs to do their part for the team.”