Three years ago, Roy Mingus handed his ninth-grade daughter, Brie, a shot put for the first time.
“Show me how you throw this thing,” he told her.
Brie, now a senior at Free State High School, still remembers her first time tossing it.
“It was about 30 feet, and he was like, ‘OK, we can work with this,’” Brie said with a smile.
That impressive throw was just the start of a successful high school career for Mingus, who will be competing in the shot put in her third straight state meet today at the Kansas State High School Championships at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
Her best throw at regionals — 35 feet, 7 1/2 inches — is the eighth-best mark in Class 6A heading into the meet.
What’s different this year for Brie is that she has shown rapid improvement in another event: discus.
After entering last week’s regionals with a personal record of 113 feet, Mingus unleashed a throw of 125 feet to take third. Not only that, almost all of her throws last Friday ended up breaking her previous PR.
The senior went from struggling to place in meets earlier in the year to having the fourth-best discus throw in 6A heading into the state meet.
“The main thing about throwing is that you just don’t think about it; you just go with it,” Mingus said. “It’s really a mental thing. I just went with it, and it flew.”
Free State coach Steve Heffernan said that he always believed that Mingus’ ceiling was higher with discus, even when she lacked consistency in the event.
This is Mingus’ first time qualifying for state in the discus.
“If she throws that really well,” Heffernan said, “she’s going to be a high medalist.”
Mingus has improved in the event with the help of her father, who was a thrower in both high school and college.
Roy often videotapes Brie’s practices so the two can later go back and break down her technique.
“He started researching it more and more,” Brie said. “It’s just a fun thing for us to do together.”
Mingus, who accepted a scholarship to join the Kansas University rowing team next year, said her objective this weekend was to post another PR in the discus. The school record is three feet farther than her best (128 feet), while the best mark in 6A this year is 134 feet, 7 inches.
The senior is part of a Free State girls track team that should be in the running for a 6A state title after winning last week’s eight-team regional by 31 points.
After the FSHS girls took third at state last year, Heffernan said this year’s goal was to bring home a bigger plaque.
“Second is a bigger trophy than third. Size-wise, they’re literally bigger. And first is a really big trophy,” Heffernan said. “So that’s going to be our goal. That’s what we’ve talked about.”
Heffernan also has high hopes for the Free State boys, who finished fourth at last week’s regionals.
“The boys could be a team that sneaks up very easily and ends up in the top five or even higher,” Heffernan said. “We’ve got some good individuals with Kain (Anderson) and DayShawn (Berndt), and both of them are capable of being in the top three in all of their events. And if those 3s turn into 2s and 1s, we’re talking about also earning a trophy on the guys’ side.”