There are only 11 other high school girls’ discus throwers in the state of California who are statistically better than Jasmin Blair. After reaching the CIF State Track and Field Championship as a sophomore, Blair returned to the championship meet during her junior year and proved that she belonged there.
Not only did Blair have her best throw of her career (142-feet, 9-inches) in the preliminaries, but she left the event with an overall better experience than her first trip a year prior.
“Some of the girls weren’t very nice to me last year and they made me feel like I wasn’t good enough to be there and that just psyched me out,” Blair said. “So, I went in there this year knowing that I wasn’t going to make it top 6, but I was going to try my best to get past my PR. That’s what I had in my mind.”
Blair finished her junior year as the 12th best discus thrower in California. She did that while having a potentially torn ACL. While running after a teammate, Blair zigged when she should have zagged, which caused the potential tear. Although the injury got better as the season progressed, even by the end of the year, Blair feels she was only 65 percent healthy.
Because of her injured knee, Blair believes that she did not have the kind of year she would have had with two good wheels.
“I feel like I could have done a lot better, because my knee was messed up,” Blair said. “Because of that, I didn’t have a lot of time to practice and do what I needed to do to get better.”
Out of nowhere
In 2017, Blair surprised everyone with a discus in her hand. As a freshman in 2016, Blair was able to break 100 feet, but only recorded 70-feet, 6-inches at the Mother Lode League finals, which landed her in 11th place. One year later, she not only won the MLL title with a throw of 123-feet, 10 inches, but she went on to win a section championship, measuring 127-feet, 8-inches.
Blair then went on to finish third at the masters meet, which qualified her for state. At the state finals, Blair threw 106-feet, 9-inches. Following a breakout sophomore season, Blair wasn’t content with her newfound success. Even when things were good, she knew she could do better.
“She’s harder on herself than I could ever be on her,” said Calaveras throwing coach of 32 years Don “Chief” Young. “She’s a perfectionist and she knows better than anybody when things aren’t going right. Depending on how she addresses those issues will determine how things go. But she’s a hard worker and will do just about anything you ask. When everyone else goes home, she’s the one who throws the extra 10 or 15 throws at the end of the day.”
A great year
Despite throwing on a bad knee, Blair was even better as a junior. She recorded eight first place discus throws as well as four first place shot put throws. The fact that Blair was able to excel at a high level while not being fully healthy, told Calaveras head coach Doug Avrit everything he needed to know about her.
“She’s a freakish athlete,” Avrit said. “Not everybody can do this and not everybody is skilled like that. She’s been blessed with some real abilities.”
Blair won the Mother Lode League title in the shot put with a throw of 32-feet, 3-inches. She later placed second at sections with a throw of 31-feet, 9-inches. It was no surprise that Blair won another MLL title with her discus throw of 130-feet, 6.5-inches. Her discus flew nearly 35-feet further than the second-place finisher.
Where the surprise came was at the section finals. Blair, who was a favorite to take first, did not have the best start to her afternoon and some early chatter may have freaked her out.
“There were all these people talking to me saying, ‘Oh, you’re throwing a 131, that’s amazing,’” Blair said. “And then I get into the ring and it just doesn’t click. I don’t remember how to move my feet or how to release the disc. I was nervous.”
Blair was throwing far shorter distances than she was accustomed to at that point. She had one final throw to erase her poor performance and possibly win another section title.
She went above and beyond. Blair recorded a new personal record with her throw of 137-feet, 4-inches.
“I was so excited, I cried when I exited the ring,” Blair said. “I looked at the girl who was holding first, who threw a 116, and she gave me the dirtiest look. But I didn’t care because it was amazing. I cried all the way while I went to get my discus.”
Young added, “She competes against herself. My standing has always been, ‘Hey, make them wish that they didn’t come to the track meet because you are going to throw it so far, they won’t want to throw against you.’ But the reality is, she strives to be better every time and is very dissatisfied when she feels she’s not successful. I can’t teach that. You either have that or you don’t.”
At the masters meet, Blair took third with her throw of 132-feet, 5-inches, but she stamped her ticket back to the State Championship. One year earlier, she was made to feel like she wasn’t good enough to be there. Blair let everyone know that wasn’t the case this year as she broke her personal record with a throw of 149-feet, 9-inches in the preliminaries.
“She’s doing things that don’t happen all the time,” Avrit said. “We were in the Holiday Express Inn down in Madera and a coach from another school was there and asked what she did and I told her that she threw 142-feet, 9-inches. He said, ‘Oh my gosh! We don’t even have a kid who can throw 100 at our school.’ She finished top 12 in the state of California this year. That’s high-level stuff that isn’t easily obtained.”
In the finals, Blair finished 12th with her throw if 128-feet, 1-inch. With one year to go, Young feels that Blair will continue to shock people and perhaps break records.
“She had to have confidence in her own abilities and what she was able to accomplish and she achieved that this year,” Young said. “I think there will be a lot of heads turning next year.”
As for Blair, the records and achievements are all a reflection on the hard work she’s put into her sport. Yet, she believes that it’s not work if it’s something she loves.
“It’s a relief,” she said. “If I’m angry, I throw a disc. If I’m sad, I throw a disc. If I’m sick, I throw a disc. It’s therapeutic.”
Contact Sports Editor Guy Dossi at 49-2053 and follow him on Twitter at @GuyDossi.