CHARLESTON, W.Va. — She wanted a state meet record and came up short, so a pair of state titles and school history will have to suffice.
Senior Aislyn Hayman became the first female in Point Pleasant history to win two state championships in the same meet on Friday after conquering the Class AA field in both the shot put and discus finals during the 2017 WVSSAC track and field championships held at Laidley Field on the campus of the University of Charleston.
Hayman — a four-year state qualifier in both events during her career — finally came away with the only thing missing from her stellar list of prep accomplishments during Day 1 of the tournament.
Hayman — who entered as the favorite in both Class AA throwing events — was more than three feet better than the entire shot put field after posting a winning heave of 40 feet, 11.5 inches. Her closest competitor was Philip Barbour junior Kacey Neville, who finished the afternoon with a runner-up effort of 37 feet, 8 inches.
Following her first-ever state title in that 4 p.m. contest, Hayman had to turn around and compete two hours later in the discus final — an event that she was an easy favorite in by more than 20 feet.
Hayman cruised to a second state title over a three-hour span after posting a final effort of 133 feet even in the discus. Neville was again the closest competitor in the Class AA discus final after posting a runner-up throw of 112 feet, 4 inches.
Hayman — who recorded throws over 140 feet at three separate meets this past spring — came up exactly seven feet short of the all-time Class AA state meet record held by Crystal Hipes of Winfield. Hipes set the current discus mark of 140 feet even back in 1993.
Hipes, coincidentally, also set the Class AA state shot put record (43-4) at that same championship 24 years ago.
Despite coming up empty on her ultimate personal goal, Hayman was still pretty proud of what she was finally able to accomplish in her final day as a PPHS student-athlete.
“I’m really excited about winning two state championships, especially in the same day,” Hayman said. “I’m a little bummed that I didn’t get that state meet record in the discus, but I’m still very happy to be leaving here with a pair of state championships. I cannot think of a better way to end my Point Pleasant career than like this.”
Hayman’s triumphs led to the Lady Knights’ first track championships since Alea Hipes (shot put) and Mallory Nowlin (200m) each won gold at the 2008 Class AA finals nine years ago.
The dual titles also accounted for 20 of the team’s 26.5 points en route to finishing fifth in the final standings — the highest point total for the girls program since scoring 31 points during its last appearance at the double-AA level back in 2012.
The Lady Knights have scored at least one point at the state tournament for 14 consecutive years, and this weekend’s fifth place finish was the highest team placement at state since the current scoring streak started in 2004.
Hayman gave the PPHS track program a state champion for the fifth time in six years, as well as a second straight year overall. Hayman also recorded the longest throws of any of the state champions in either girls event held this past weekend.
Though not one for tears, PPHS throwing coach Dave Darst was somewhat emotional in seeing hard work pay off first-hand. He was there in 2008 when Alea Hipes won gold, as well as in 2014 when Tanner Hill won the shot put and even last year when Cody Mitchell won the discus.
But this one, or actually make that two, might be the proudest moment of all for Darst — mainly because of what Hayman has gone through to get to the top of that podium.
“I’m just tickled for her because this is the girl that did everything right,” Darst said. “Her four years at Point Pleasant have been about this day and becoming a state champion. For her to win both events is phenomenal, and this is just a reflection of who she is and her work ethic to get to this point.
“I’m just so proud of her because I’ve spent a lot of time with her over the years and I know how much work she has put in. I’ve coached a lot of state champions … and she’s one of the best I’ve ever had.”
Hayman — who has committed to Marshall University for track and field — leaves Point Pleasant as the program’s record-holder in both throwing events. Hayman set the shot put mark (42-1.5) on April 14 at the Dick Dunlap Invitational in Winfield and also recorded the discus record (148-8) on May 1 at the All-Comers quad at PPHS.
The two state titles also gave Hayman a total of six podium finishes in eight chances during her career. For a second straight season, Hayman was also a dual-podium placer at the state meet.
Hayman’s better event has always been the discus, which reflects in her respective third, fourth and runner-up finishes at the triple-A state level during her first three years of high school. Hayman was also a Region 4 champion in the discus as a freshman, junior and again this past season.
Hayman, however, didn’t place in the Class AAA shot put final after respective finishes of ninth and seventh during here freshman and sophomore campaigns. Hayman was third in the shot put state final last year as a junior and just claimed her first Region 4 shot put championship this postseason.
To have things work out so well during her final prep season, Hayman acknowledges that she is both humble and extremely proud of how she is capping her Point Pleasant career. She also has four more years of competition waiting for her as a member of the Thundering Herd.
When asked if either title had any more significance than the other, her answer wasn’t really that surprising — but it did come with one big grin that represented a real sense of achievement.
“They are both special to me for different reasons, but the shot put title might be a little more special because I’ve never really been as strong entering the state meet in that event,” Hayman said. “I’ve had to work a little harder in the shot put than I have in the discus, and it’s technically my first state title. Make no mistake though, I’m definitely happy to walk away from here with both of them.”
Hayman — who carries a 3.8 unweighted grade-point average — will be majoring in Exercise Science at Marshall University.
Aislyn is the daughter of Tate and Damia Hayman of Point Pleasant.
Bryan Walters can be reaached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.