James Plummer of Egg Harbor Township High School threw the discus so far Sunday he almost needed to be convinced of what he had accomplished.
Plummer threw a personal-best 197 feet to win the event at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro. Plummer's previous best was 188-4, which he threw to win the New Jersey Group IV title on June 1.
"I was in shock," Plummer, 18, said by telephone Sunday evening of his latest victory.
Plummer heard his victory announced over the public-address system. He saw his picture on the stadium's giant video scoreboard.
"That's when it began to set in," he said. "It's definitely an awesome feeling."
Plummer's victory highlighted several outstanding performances by local athletes during the three-day meet, commonly referred to as "nationals." Braheme Days Jr. of Bridgeton won the shot put Saturday and Isaac Clark of Pleasantville ran an 800-meter time Sunday that places him among the best in New Jersey history. The meet featured athletes from all over the country but predominately from the East Coast.
Plummer's winning throw came on the fifth of his six tosses.
"As soon as it left my hand, I knew it was going to be a big one," Plummer said.
Plummer got more and more excited as he watched the discus soar.
"I saw where it landed, and I knew it was the leading throw," he said.
Plummer then waited nervously, hoping no one would top his effort. The top seed, Jacob Patrick of Litchfield, Mich., threw 196-5 to finish second.
Plummer's throw is the third best in South Jersey history. Only Ron Dayne of Overbrook (216-11 in 1996) and Days (199-6 earlier this month) have thrown farther.
Plummer's win was surprising because he struggled at the Meet of Champions on June 5, throwing just 141-0 to finish 31st.
In light of that effort, where did Sunday's throw come from?
"It came from a lot of hard work with my coaches (Ryan Smith and Tony DeRosa) and lot of technique work," he said. "But more so just being relaxed and staying focused. It was knowing that I could do it and that I have done it in practice. The only thing I needed to do was execute, be calm, relaxed and go out and do it."
Days ends slump
In other events, Days broke out of his shot-put slump Saturday.
The Bridgeton senior won the event with a season-best put of 68-6.5 inches on his last throw. Days had fouled on his previous three throws. Before his final throw, he was in second behind Nick Ponzio (65-9.75) of Great Oak, Calif.
Days also had a problem fouling at the Meet of Champions, doing so on four of six attempts and finishing second with a season-low put of 59.75 inches.
In the 800 run, Isaac Clark ran 1 minute, 49.27 seconds to finish second to John Crossley of Atlantic Beach, N.C., (1:48.01). Isaac's twin brother, Jacob, ran 1:51.75 to finish seventh.
Isaac's time breaks his own local record and is the third best in state history. Only John Marshall of Plainfield (1:48.44 in 1980) and Robby Andrews of Manalapan (1:48.66 in 2009) have run faster.
Marshall ran the 800 at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Andrews won the 2011 NCAA Division I men's 800 championship while running for the University of Virginia.
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