Smyrna discus, shot put star McFolling-Young aims to shine at states

Myrissa McFolling-Young

SMYRNA — Myrissa McFolling-Young is the first to admit she can get a little antsy before big meets.

And the Penn Relays is about as big an annual event as there is in the track & field world.

But for some reason, when she walked into venerable old Franklin Field on April 29, the Smyrna High senior thrower just knew she was ready.

“I don’t know, I just walked in calm,” said McFolling-Young. “I knew what I had to do.”

What she did on that day in Philadelphia was destroy the state discus record, not just once but on four of her five official throws.

McFolling-Young finally ended up with a throw of 156-feet, 9-inches.

“When I threw it, I couldn’t see it,” she said. “All I heard was my coach in the background screaming and yelling — like ‘Yeah, Marissa.’ I knew I had done something.

“When I finally turned around and watched it land, I was like, ‘Oh, that went kind of far.’”

Far indeed.

To put it in perspective, McFolling-Young’s throw of 156-9 is a full 44 feet farther than the second-best throw in the state this spring — a 112-4 by St. Mark’s Sarah Eissmann.

So to say that McFolling-Young is heavily favored to win the Division I girls’ discus again at the DIAA state championships this weekend at Dover would be an understatement.

McFolling-Young is also the favorite in the girls’ Division I shot put at the meet, which starts on Friday at 3 p.m. at Dover before concluding on Saturday. The girls’ Division I discus competition is slated to be among the first events held on Friday.

McFolling-Young swept both the discus and shot put state titles a year ago and is going for her third straight state crown in the discus.

So while Smyrna coach Maura Schafer doesn’t want to assume anything, it’s difficult to imagine McFolling-Young not earning 20 team points for the Eagles.

“You don’t want to say it’s guaranteed because obviously anything can happen,” said Schafer. “But it’s as close to a guarantee as I’ve ever had as a coach. It is refreshing, in the back of your mind, to kind of count on those points.”

The amazing thing is that McFolling-Young is still so new to the sport.

As a freshman, she really didn’t want anything to do with taking up throwing. But she passed Schafer all the time in the school’s hallway.

“She pestered me like every day,” said McFolling-Young. “Every day she would be like, ‘So are you coming out?’ And I’d just be like, ‘I don’t know.’”

Finally, McFolling-Young, said it was her older brother, Maurice, who convinced her to give throwing a try in her freshman year.

Not only had Maurice played football at Smyrna but her dad, also named Maurice, had played some football at the University of Alabama.

So McFolling-Young always figured she, too, had some athletic ability. She just never seemed to be able to find the right sport.

“I played so many sports,” said McFolling-Young. “I tried basketball and I didn’t even make the team. I tried soccer. I was good at it but … it was just here (throwing) that it really clicked for me.”

McFolling-Young’s growth in the sport has been pretty remarkable.

As a sophomore, she won the discus title with a throw of 111-0. She then upped that mark to 138-11 in winning the Meet of Champions as a junior.

Now McFolling-Young has gone 18 feet past that distance. She’d love to stretch that distance even farther to give future throwers something to shoot for.

“I’m really motivated to get that record as high as I can,” she said.

McFolling-Young, who is headed to Delaware on a scholarship, says her individual coach, Barry Swanson, deserves the credit for how far she’s come.

“I think he’s probably one of the best things to happen to me,” she said. “I’ve gotten so much stronger. I feel so much more confident in my throwing. I’m pretty consistent now.”

Schafer knows McFolling-Young’s best throws are ahead of her. Once the youngster gets to college, where she’ll join former Polytech thrower Sarah Hillman, her numbers might really skyrocket.

But Schafer is also excited to see what McFolling-Young can do this weekend.

“I say this to everybody who asks, she’s just a competitor,” said Schafer. “The bigger the meet, the bigger the results. She definitely does not shy away from competition at all.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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