Afolabi Olabode is ready to go out and just throw.
The Golden Valley High School senior has spent much of his season trying to fix every little technical flaw he’s discovered in his shot put delivery. As a result, the big throws haven’t been there.
“He never really showed it, but I could tell he was extremely frustrated,” Golden Valley coach Tim Pust said. “Early on in the season, he threw (60 feet, 2 inches) in our intrasquad competition. We thought he’d be throwing 65 feet by the end of the season. For lack of a better word, he petered out.
“A big part of that is he overanalyzes himself. In large part, he really wanted to perfect himself. After working on all that throughout the season, I think he’s ready to explode.”
Pust expects to see “Afolabeast” at the CIF State Track and Field Championships that get underway today at 3 p.m. at Buchanan High in Clovis.
“Afolabi is a super smart kid and he’s always trying to correct his imperfections,” Pust said. “What we want to see this week is that beast in him come out. We call him Afolabeast. We want him to stop thinking and just throw far.”
Olabode is one of three local athletes trying to advance to Saturday’s finals. Also making the trip will be Golden Valley’s Ryan Pust and Buhach Colony’s Brandy Coward.
Pust is seeded No. 1 in the pole vault after clearing a personal best 16-7 at last week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships. Coward has the 19th best time in the 100- and 200-meter dash.
Olabode’s personal best throw of 60-6 1/4 at last week’s Masters has him seeded sixth in the shot put.
Olabode, who expects to sign a track scholarship with UC Santa Barbara soon, doesn’t believe he overanalyzes himself. He felt there were technical issues that needed to be fixed.
For the past couple of weeks, Olabode hasn’t worried about any technical flaws that may pop up. His only concern is going out and putting up big numbers.
“At this point in the season, it’s less about technique and more about putting energy into the throw,” Olabode said. “It’s completely different going from the Sac-Joaquin Section to competing with the big throwers coming out of the Southern sections. You have to perform. You have to bring a (personal record).”
Olabode was put to the test at the Masters last week. In the final round, Folsom sophomore Jonah Williams took the lead with a throw of 59-83/4. With just one throw left, Olabode delivered with his 60-61/4 to win the championship.
Olabode said he didn’t feel pressure going into that final throw. His approach was to just let whatever happens happen and he uncorked his best throw ever.
He’ll use that same approach today at state. Last year he said the pressure of competing against the state’s top throwers and atmosphere that is the state championship got to him and he didn’t perform well.
“I think I’m coming in more confident,” Olabode said. “I know the competition in the top six is going to be tight. I’m confident I can pull throws out this year. The goal right now is to make it to Saturday. On Saturday I want to finish in the top six. If not, at least PR.”
Tim Pust expects Olabode to rise to the occasion.
“I think he’s going to surprise some people,” Pust said. “He’s coming in seeded sixth. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes in the top four. I don’t think 60 feet, 6 inches is the best he’s got.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or email@example.com.