Chamblee Junior Athlete ‘Discus-es’ Regional Win


Photo courtesy Stephen Campana.

Junior Stephen Campana (far right) stands alongside his team.

Henry Diep, Staff Writer

Over the summer, Chamblee Charter High School junior Stephen Campana made headlines placing first in the discus throw at the 2019 USA Track & Field Region Four Junior Olympic Outdoor Championships. The competition was fierce, with Campana against some of the best teen discus throwers in the region.

“I competed against about 10 other people [in my age range] who placed high enough in their state to qualify for regionals,” said Campana. “There had to have been about a couple thousand people in the venue at regionals; it was a pretty big meet.”

But Campana’s win did not come without experience. The former football player began throwing discus in eighth grade after his football coach told him he should start playing a spring sport when the season ended.

“I started on the track and field team just throwing shot-put, but my coach figured since I was taller and skinnier [than other shot put throwers], I would be better at throwing discus,” he said.

Campana described discus as a sport that is more reliant on execution and finesse rather than muscle and power, as opposed to shot put, which is based more on physical strength.

“Discus is a lot more technique than pure strength. I know guys that are twice my size and can’t throw half [the distance] I do because, you know, they don’t have technique,” said Campana. “[I’m] smaller than most throwers, so I had to rely more on form.”

To prepare for the tournament, Campana constantly practiced in the weeks leading up to the meet and maintained a consistent workout schedule.

“I was probably working out three to four times a week [every other day] during the summer and practicing throwing on the days in between. So pretty much every day before or after work I’d have to do some training for discus,” he said.

The tournament, which took place July 7 in Lexington, South Carolina, included athletes from Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Campana previously competed at state and placed high enough to proceed on to the Region Four Championships.

“It goes state, regionals, then nationals. State was [comprised] of me and a bunch of other 15 and 16-year-olds, including two or three people who I’ve practiced and thrown with in the past. That was a lot more challenging [than this tournament] because one of the guys I threw with is really good, and I was pretty much competing with him for first and second at state,” said Campana. “He couldn’t make it out to South Carolina [for regionals], so there was less competition, and I ended up having a really good meet.”

While Campana did qualify to compete in the national tournament, he ultimately decided to opt out due to travel inconveniences.

“Nationals was being held about a month after regionals, [but] it was in Sacramento, so I didn’t end up going. Instead, I went to the beach with my family,” he said.

Nevertheless, Campana plans to continue throwing discus as a high school athlete and hopes to compete in college as well.

“I really like throwing. I quit football and started throwing because of the opportunities [in discus]. I was a lot better at it [than football], and I’m going to continue to do it for the rest of high school, hopefully for college,” he said. “My coach has gotten a text or two from a coach at an Arizona college over the summer, but no offers just yet.”