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Samara Nelson is a shot put and discus star at Central Valley High School. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Prep track and field: Central Valley’s Samara Nelson aims for state titles, school records

The three to four trips to Rathdrum each week for practice, beginning last summer through the winter, and the countless repetitions have positioned Central Valley thrower Samara Nelson to go out with a flair this week.

Second in the State 4A shot put a year ago, the senior heads back to Tacoma believing a state championship is within her grasp.

Nelson goes to the state meet ranked No. 1 at 44 feet, 2 inches. It’s her career best.

“What I’m most impressed about her season is she’s been remarkably consistent,” Bears coach Geoff Arte said. “A lot of people get hung up about (personal bests), but if you’re consistent, you’re going to pop one eventually. She’s been in the 42 to 44 range most of the season. Even in the discus, where she’s just learning, she’s been really consistent the last five weeks.”

Until this spring, Nelson had never thrown the discus in high school and only a couple of times last summer. That’s when her father, Jon Nelson, and offseason coach Bart Templeman stressed she needed to start throwing the element in preparation for college.

“She didn’t want to throw the discus, but I told her you’re never going to be good at it unless you try it,” said Templeman, who works with Nelson out of his Rathdrum training facility. “Colleges want you to do more than one event.”

“I was never interested in it because my first love was shot put,” Nelson said. “I wasn’t sure I’d be any good. I found out I was OK. Now I wish I had taken it up sooner.”

Nelson gladly gave up the javelin for the discus.

“It wasn’t my forte,” she said.

Nelson will add the hammer throw and the weight throw for indoor meets in college.

She has received offers from Kentucky, Fresno State and Washington State.

“Where she’s come from her freshman year to now is amazing,” Arte said. “She’s going to do really well (in college) when she lands at a comfortable place.”

Nelson wants to be a nurse. She won’t decide which school to attend until after graduation.

Her father, a 6-foot-9 West Valley graduate, played basketball at Weber State. Her mother, the former Alana Svensrud, was a hurdler at Post Falls High.

Daughter, at 5-9, didn’t get anywhere close to her father’s height. Her initiation in track and field began mostly in the sprints.

“She’s unbelievably strong for her size,” Templeman said. “She’s a diamond in the rough. She’s going to be a good one (in college).”

Nelson’s personal best in the discus is 133-6. She came within 3 inches of it when she won a district title last week. She’s ranked second in the state, 11 feet behind the leader.

“The thing about the discus is all it takes is one throw,” said Templeman, who wouldn’t be surprised if Nelson challenges for a state title.

Nelson has her sights set on the school records, too. Both are old. The shot (44-6 3/4) was set in 1980 and the discus (138-3) came in 1975, the school’s oldest record.

“I’m excited to see what happens this week,” she said. “I definitely want to win a state title. I feel like I’ve been working hard enough that it’s achievable.”

Arte appreciates Nelson’s team-first attitude. He was sizing up CV’s season-opening meet against Lewis and Clark and was trying to find a way to score more points. He asked Nelson if she’d be willing to throw the javelin along with the other events.

She won all three, providing CV with 15 points. As it turned out, the additional points were much needed. The teams ended up tied at 75-all and shared the league dual title.

Nelson can’t wait for her final high school competition.

“I feel ready. All the pieces are there,” she said.