Gray-New Gloucester’s Kassidy Plummer, Caitlyn Smith, Zoe Barnes and Maddie Soule are one of the top throwing groups in Class B. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

GRAY — At the Western Maine Conference indoor track championships last February, Gray-New Gloucester had a group of sophomores finish inside the top-seven of the shot put finals. 

Zoe Barnes took the win with a throw of 34-08.25, Maddie Soule finished in third, followed by Kassidy Plummer and Caitlyn Smith in sixth and seventh place, respectively. 

Barnes finished third at the Class B state meet and Soule in 13th, but this year the group hopes to all make it to states. 

To do so, the group has been working in the weight room and watching film. Lots of film. 

“(Throwing coach Jeff Amos) will email us videos in the middle of the school day and say, ‘Watch this before practice,’” Plummer said. “I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll do that during math class.’”

Now juniors, the quartet of throwers are constantly watching film of themselves, their teammates, and of Olympians. 

“He focuses on us a lot,” Barnes said. “We watch a lot of videos of ourselves a lot, even past videos from freshman year to now.”

“We compare our videos to Olympians,” Soule said. “That’s kind of the goal.”

Watching film of yourself throwing shot put to some might bring about the same cringe down your spine as hearing a recording of your own voice, but not for Soule. 

“Especially when we are working on form, and being able to see our weak spots and compare the video is really helpful,” Soule said.

Plummer agrees. 

“We really crave his critiquing,” Plummer said. “We always help each other out but his guidance is really helpful.”

For Amos, it’s all about film, lifting and drills.

“We spend a lot of time doing drills,” Amos said. “We focus on fundamentals, we do a lot of filmwork, comparing what they do to Olympians and high-level athletes. Drills, drills, drills. They’re boring, but they have found that if you put the time in there then you’ll get better. Also, a focus on lifting weights, as well, and all year long if we can.”

Barnes has benefited greatly from the weight room. She started throwing in sixth grade and it really started to click for her in middle school.

“My expectations was to just grow and learn the technique at first,” Barnes said. “Then to just build muscle and fit in with the other girls. Being tall, people were saying, ‘You shouldn’t really be here,’ because they thought I’d be a jumper or sprinter. So, body-wise, I wanted to gain muscle to be like the other girls.”

Barnes has reaped the benefits of putting the time in. The junior reached the New England Championship each of her first two years and is entering her third indoor season as the favorite in Class B. 

“I’m hoping for… well I have a huge goal, which is first,” Barnes said. “That’s my goal.”

Amos thinks the sky is the limit for Barnes this year. 

“If you look at milesplit, there is an error in there. There is a girl that left last year that’s (listed) in second place, so she actually is four feet, two inches clear of the second-best returning thrower in Class B,” Amos said. “She threw 33 feet or so her freshman year and then 36-6 her sophomore year. She has excellent height, she’s a hard worker and she puts a lot into it. She lifts weights in the offseason and spend a lot of time analyzing film. She’s just talented.”

Plummer, Soule and Barnes all started track and field before high school, but Smith started her freshman year and reached the state meet that first season. 

“I did that freshman year, and then I got injured in my outdoor season freshman year so last year was kind of an off year,” Smith said. “My goal is to do that again this year.”

Soule wants to reach states in the shot put, again, and also in pole vault. Plummer has podium aspirations come February. All four are fully invested.

“I think if you ask the four girls we have, they’d tell you this is their main sport,” Amos said. “They play other sports, but I think if you asked them in the middle of field hockey season, they’d say shot putters. They really work together and push each other because you can’t do it alone. You can’t do it alone.”

During a meet, they’re competitive. But the juniors are always there for one another. 

“I feel like you don’t see that with other teams,” Plummer said. “But we don’t care if one of us beats the other one week, it’s just fun to see your friends succeed.”

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