Fort Worth Eastern Hills shot putter Cody Hayes has waited a year for his shot at redemption at the UIL state track meet.
Despite qualifying for state in 2012, Hayes was forced to stay home due to grades.
This season he has won every track meet he’s competed in, including the Class 4A Region I meet two weeks ago in Abilene, where he set a personal record of 56 feet, 103/4 inches.
Hayes, who signed with Texas Tech to play football, admitted Friday’s Class 4A state meet will be especially sweet after missing out last season.
“Now I have a point to prove and I have my family and God on the side of me, so I’m pretty sure I’ll make it this year,” Hayes said.
Hayes, a physical specimen at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds with little body fat, said a disdain for failure fuels him.
“I hate losing more than I love winning, so I have the mindset I have to fight and compete,” Hayes said
Highlanders track coach Lonnie Williams credits throwing coach Immanuel Sennet for much of Hayes’ success.
“That’s one advantage Cody has is his technique, which he’s able to display when he gets out there,” Williams said. “I’ve noticed when he’s out there at a meet throwing and coach Sennet is coaching him up, the other kids out there try to mimic what he does.”
Hayes is a heavy favorite to win gold in Austin. His throw in Abilene is almost 10 inches better than the next top qualifier, yet the goal is to not only claim gold at the 4A level but to finish with the longest distance in the state at every level.
No matter Friday’s outcome, Hayes, who will be the first Eastern Hills athlete to compete at state since 2009, has already changed the attitude toward throwing events at a school known more for its past relay teams.
“Kids actually want to come out and throw the shot put now because Cody has made it cool,” Williams said. “So now I have a lot of kids who want to come and throw just because of what Cody has done this year.
“Nobody used to go watch the shot put and there wasn’t any excitement over there, but when Cody throws, there’s a crowd of people to watch.”