CHEYENNE – Becca Monahan was merely an eighth-grader supporting her older sister, Jesse, at a track meet when her athletic career changed.
Cheyenne South throws coach Jason Woodard saw the then 6-foot-2 Monahan cheering her sister on, and saw the makings of a champion thrower.
“She has gifts you can’t coach,” Woodard said. “I had to look up to her when she was in eighth grade. She has a good frame and nice long arms.
“She has a lot of tools you can’t coach, and she is also coachable.”
Monahan showed flashes of the potential Woodard saw in her by qualifying for the Class 4A state meet her freshman and sophomore years. She missed the state meet last season, but has come back with a vengeance.
Monahan broke – and then reset – South’s indoor shot put record before claiming the state championship in that event with a heave of 38 feet, 1½ inches.
Monahan is uncomfortable with the attention that comes with being a state champion. Before she climbed the podium to get her medal, some teammates approached her and asked how she did.
“I told them I just did OK,” Monahan said with a chuckle. “They were shocked when I was standing on the top of the podium, and they were like, ‘You did better than OK!’
“I was happy I won, but I wasn’t happy with my distance. I could have thrown a lot better. That’s just how competitive I am.”
That competitiveness has been a blessing and a curse for Monahan, Woodard said.
“She puts a lot of pressure on herself to win every single time she goes out, so that’s what she tries to do,” he said. “It had taken her three years for her to understand that she just has to compete. That mental part is huge in throwing.
“We spend so much time training away from everyone, and then there are 300 people standing around the ring when we compete. That can be intimidating.”
Monahan says she has improved mentally as a thrower, but admits that outside factors contributed to her down season.
“My classes were harder, I was nervous about college and taking the ACT,” she said. “Putting varsity athletics on top of it was not a good thing. I was balancing so much and trying to be the best I could in every aspect, and it was really draining.
“There are a lot of things I was worried about last year that I’m not worried about this year.”
Monahan hasn’t decided where she will matriculate starting this fall, but she is hoping to post marks that allow her to continue her track career.
“I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in without coach Woodard,” Monahan said. “He is the best coach here by far. He always pushes me and always supports me. He is hard on me when he needs to be.
“If it wasn’t for him, I would still be playing basketball instead of winning state titles.”