The most notable performance by an Arlington high school athlete at the recent Liberty Conference Track and Field Meet came in the shot put.
Washington-Lee High School junior Benedict Draghi set a new meet and school record with a throw of 61-feet, 43/4-inches to finish first.
The winning throw was an indoor school record, and by a lot. The old school mark was 52-9, set in 1966 by Billy Whit. The Washington-Lee outdoor school shot record of 60-8, set in the spring, is held by Reggie Harrison and was set in 1977.
Draghi’s record throw with the 12-pound-shot came on his fourth and final put of the meet. He fouled on his first three attempts.
“I was confused and frustrated after the three fouls,” Draghi said. “So I set down and really got focused for that last throw. Everything worked together. I drove out of the back of the circle with a lot more power, then I kind of jumped at the end to get more height on the throw.”
Before the 61-footer, the previous longest throw for the 6-foot-1, 260-pound Draghi was 57-7 earlier this season. His longest throw as a sophomore was 50 feet, coming last spring. So he has made an 11-foot improvement this winter.
Draghi quickly began improving this winter with a throw of 53 feet. Next came 57 and 58, then the record put.
“I’m a lot stronger, faster and quicker this year,” said Draghi, who can squat 500 pounds and power-clean 350.
Washington-Lee throwing coach Josh Patulski credits Draghi.
“He has just an incredible work ethic, he is extremely strong and he likes to weight train,” Patulski said. “He does a lot of Olympic weight lifting and training. Throwers like him come along about once a decade. A good thrower can pick up five feet a year. But Benedict always surprises me with his big jumps, like that 61-foot throw.”
Throwing is in Draghi’s genes. His older brother, Dominic, was a 50-foot shot putter at Washington-Lee. He’s now throwing at Tiffin University in Ohio.
Benedict Draghi is now the top-ranked indoor shot putter in Virginia, by milestat.com, and has qualified to compete in the New Balance Indoor Nationals next month in New York.
Draghi throws the discus during the spring as well as the shot, where he placed third in the state (149-11) in 2015 in the discus. He’d like to keep breaking records, holding all of the Virginia High School League’s state throwing marks by the time he graduates in June 2017
Also for the W-L boys at the conference meet, Justin Robinson was third in the shot; the 4x800 relay was second; Jonny Jackson was third in the 1,000 and Justin Szczerbinski fourth; Marco Viola was fourth in the 3,200 and sixth in the 1,600; James Gusmer was fifth in the 1,600; and the 4x200 and 4x400 relays each placed fourth.
For the Yorktown boys, Derrick Isaac was third in the high jump, and Tyler Stowell was fifth in the triple jump and eighth in the long jump.
For the W-L girls at the Liberty meet, Laura Ramirez was second in the 1,000 in 3:09.68; the 4x200 and 4x400 relays were second; Juliana Walker was third in the 300; Ro Kula Mcgough was third in the 55 dash; Isabella Corry was fifth in the 300; and Jordan Grimaldi was sixth in the 1,600.
Leading the Yorktown girls in the conference meet was a victory by sophomore Katherine Cressey in the shot put in 28-11/2.
Julia Carroll finished fourth in the 1,600; the 4x400 relay was fifth; Bridget Hart was sixth in the 500; Sophie Banchoff took sixth in the 1,000; and Catherine Whitehouse was seventh in the 3,200.