By Dan Guttenplan
---- — WESTFIELD — Steve Preston would have been hard-pressed to imagine a better ending to his track and field career at Newburyport High.
The senior capped a memorable career with an All-State championship in the discus Saturday at Westfield State University. Preston had a personal-best throw of 155-5, besting his top throw at the Division 4 Championships a week earlier by 9 feet, 5 inches.
The discus title was certainly unexpected considering Preston had placed second at the Division 4 meet May 25. The top finishers from all five divisions join for the All-State Championships, so rarely does an athlete improve his or her standing the next week.
Preston bested Newburyport’s previous discus record of 148-3, which was set by Jim Barrett in 1965, on five of his six throws Saturday. He had throws of 132-0, 151-0, 155-5, 148-10, 149-6 and 151-5.
“He was very consistent all day,” Newburyport coach Tim Foley said. “It was a great moment for him, his family and our team and league.”
Preston is only the second Newburyport All-State champion in school history. Kyanna Stallings won the 100 meters at Newburyport in 2000 before continuing her track career at UMass Amherst.
Preston’s ascent to one of the top throwers in the state has been gradual, as he struggled to qualify for the All-State Championships in his freshman season. By his sophomore year, he was competing for a Cape Ann League title in the shot put and discus. This year has been particularly fruitful for Preston. He broke the school shot put record in the indoor season before qualifying for the New Balance Indoor National Championships. He also placed second at Division 4 Championships during the indoor season.
With Saturday’s performance, Preston qualified for the New England Championships in New Britain, Conn., this weekend.