High School Track & Field

GOLDEN TOUCH

Cougars’ Flynt state’s best in discus, shot put

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 5/9/21

The two-time state champion thrower hated throwing the discus and shot put when she first tried it at 10 years old.

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High School Track & Field

GOLDEN TOUCH

Cougars’ Flynt state’s best in discus, shot put

Posted

The two-time state champion thrower hated throwing the discus and shot put when she first tried it at 10 years old.

Amelia Flynt was all but irritated after her dad, Darren, took her to Lamar High School in Houston to try throwing some discuses.

“This is stupid,” Amelia told Darren. “I’m never doing this again.”

Life can be funny how things work out.

Fast forward seven years and Flynt, a senior at Cinco Ranch signed to compete as a thrower at the University of California, capped an inspiring high school career as a state champion in both events, winning gold in the shot put with a throw of 46-feet, 5-inches and the discus with a throw of 173-feet, 7-inches, the latter a personal record, at the UIL Class 6A state track and field meet Saturday, May 8, at Mike A. Myers Stadium at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I went out there and told myself, ‘Hey, just do what you know how to do,’” Amelia said.

Amelia didn’t let the first impression of the sport dismay her. She tried it again in sixth grade and got hooked. The reward is greatness.

The sport is in the family’s blood. Darren started throwing at 14 years old and threw for the University of Nebraska. Amelia’s mother, Dagmar Pesakova, was also a thrower at Nebraska and also threw for Czechoslovakia. Pesakova was part of the first wave of foreign athletes to come to the United States in 1989.

“Amelia did some of the youth meets, the junior Olympics, and she showed a lot of promise early on,” Darren said. “It just went from there.”

A RHYTHMIC WORKER

Darren saw a natural ability in his daughter.

“Some girls you see, and they’re super explosive and they throw far because of that,” Darren said. “Amelia throws far because she’s got really good rhythm. She’s always been real good at dancing. She got her strength from me and power from her mom. But her two biggest assets is she works her butt off and she’s just so rhythmic.”

The bond between Darren and Amelia strengthened through throwing. Darren got divorced and had minimum visitation rights, but “miraculously,” he said, her mother allowed him to coach Amelia all he desired.

“I took advantage of that and it became our thing,” Darren said. “She’s daddy’s girl and will probably always be that way. We have a good time, understand each other pretty good. Luckily, her junior high and high school coaches have all been OK with me coaching her. It’s all worked out great.”

Over the years, through thousands and thousands of hours of tireless work, Darren and Amelia honed the craft.

Darren’s coaching philosophy differs from others. He emphasizes technique instead of weight-lifting. He also encourages an athlete to throw their farthest on the first throw of a meet, for an early intimidation factor, instead of building up to the best throw like most coaches prefer.

Through Beck Junior High, where Amelia still holds Katy ISD records in the discus (118-6.5) and shot put (44-7), to two back injuries that haunted her sophomore year and through a COVID-19 pandemic that canceled most of her junior season, it all came together for Amelia at state.

On her throw of 46-5.00 in the shot put: “I felt satisfied with it,” Amelia said. “Do I wish I did better? Yes. But I would take that over totally tensing up and not throwing anything. I was happy having thrown the 49 (49-02.00, which ranks No. 1 in the U.S. in high school competition) I threw at regionals. I was really going into state more focused on doing what it took to win.”

And the 173-7 personal record in the discus, which Darren understands to be the farthest throw at a Class 6A state meet? “I was really satisfied,” she said. “It shocked me how far I threw it; I hadn’t been throwing very far recently. I’d been having some issues with my groin lately, and it was hurting a little bit.”

The 49-02.00 and 173-7 marks are bests for Katy ISD high school girls track and field.

Injuries plagued Amelia throughout her high school career.

Around the time of the district meet her freshman year, she started experiencing spasms and lumbar back pain. She qualified for state in the discus, finishing with a silver medal at less than 100 percent health.

Amelia discovered she tore the L4 and L5 discs in her back, the two lowest vertebrae of the lumbar spine, when she went for an MRI in the fall of her sophomore year. Up until then, however, she practiced in pain, unable to go to the doctor and know what was wrong because the family had no insurance after Darren lost his job.

“That summer was really hard,” Amelia said.

TOUGHENED

Amelia finally got surgery on her back that fall, couldn’t throw for six weeks, and then had a horrible setback when her family’s car was rear-ended by a FedEx truck and she started having back spasms again.

And yet through all of that, Amelia refuses to join the pity party. In fact, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She is toughened.

It’s almost symbolic that she braids her hair back and marks three vertical lines of war paint down the right side of her face when competing at meets. She is a warrior.

“It’s been a great four years,” she said. “I went out there as a freshman and got second in discus, and that put me on the board for people to know my name. So, it did hurt when I didn’t make it to state my sophomore year after all my injuries and surgery and the accident. It put a toll on me.  My junior year, I was finally recovering from my injuries and everything started coming together, I was starting to throw really far, and after three meets, everything got shut down because of COVID. It wasn’t fun.

“But getting to throw my senior year and getting to show my potential and what I am, it’s perfect. I couldn’t have asked for it to end any better.”

It's that perspective that makes Darren proudest.

“The most important thing to me is she showed she’s figured out the mental side of it,” he said. “She’s had a tough go of it. A good friend passed away this year. It’s a lot of stuff she’s had to go through to get to where she’s at now, so I’m real proud of her. It’s a lonely sport, where you’re working hours and hours by yourself. So, it’s neat when something like this happens and everybody gets to see the fruits of the labor.”

And in doubling up on gold in Austin, Amelia granted a sweet parting gift for Cinco Ranch throws coach J.D. Fincher, who is retiring after 30 years of coaching.

“I was Coach’s retirement plan,” Amelia said. “He told me that since my freshman year. He came up to me crying after I won and my first words to him were, ‘I guess you can retire now. This is it.’ He’s excited. I’ve never seen a football coach cry. Happy tears.

“He’s one of the most hard-working people I’ve ever met. He’s basically had two lives, first being in the army and now a teacher and having a kid, and he’s taught me to live life. He’s a very kind person who’s helped me emotionally. Having him there, he always knows the right thing to say. I love that he’s a lot like me, big and macho but a teddy bear.”

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