By Jim Sullivan
---- — NEWBURYPORT -- Two local track stars are headed down to New Britain Conn. today to compete in the New England Championships after both setting their school records in their respective events.
Newburyport’s Steve Preston won an All-State championship in the discus at Westfield State University last Saturday to qualify for the New England’s. His throw was also a personal-best of 155-5, besting Newburyport High School’s previous discus record of 148-3 set by Jim Barrett in 1965.
“I knew it was a good throw,” Preston said of his record-breaker. “But I was completely shocked. It’s hard to describe, I was full of excitement. Working so hard over the last four years to kind of etch myself in some stone, to finally get it, I just couldn’t be happier. There’s nothing better than completing a goal, nothing better. I was just over the moon.”
Preston also topped his performance at the Division 4 Championships, May 25 by 9 feet, 5 inches where he placed fourth.
“I was kind of surprised with the amount that I did excel in the spring,” said Preston. “(But) me and my coach have just been fighting. Working on technique, working on strength training, all this stuff to beat 149.”
Preston is now only the second Newburyport All-State champion in school history, joining Kyanna Stallings who won the 100 meters in 2000.
“I always want to go forward in my competitions and to do better, to excel,” said Preston, who has been with the varsity track teams since his freshman year. “And completing that goal of breaking the record was kind of an added bonus. I completed all of my goals and I can leave this track team happy with how I have performed all year.”
In his first All-State’s, Amesbury senior Perry Mroz broke the Amesbury High shot put record with a throw of 55-11/2, breaking Chris Wyman’s record of 53-73/4 in 1982 to send him to New Britain as well. When asked if he set out to etch his name in Amesbury’s records Mroz laughed, and said, “Absolutely.”
“I wasn’t really there to break the record,” expanded Mroz. “I was just trying to get there and it just clicked and it just happened.”
Mroz, who graduated from Amesbury High last night, was direct when asked what Amesbury track has given to him.
“Track has given me a lot to strive for,” said Mroz. “You can graduate high school by getting good grades and stuff and that is work but it is something most people can do. So when I do track, I have a goal to break a record, I have to work hard off the field. I have to work to make that happen. It’s not going to be given to me.”