Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WHEELERSBURG — Success, within any walk of life, isn’t just stumbled upon.
There’s no better example of that statement being true than Wheelersburg’s Paige Emnett, who was possibly southern Ohio’s most successful girls track athlete this past spring.
After finishing sixth and 16th in the shot put and discus throw events, respectively, at last year’s OHSAA Track and Field State Championships, Emnett reevaluated how she operated.
She had her first taste of the state podium thanks to a heave of 40-feet-2 in the shot as a junior. But after she experienced that rush of endorphins, her goals heading into her senior year became crystal clear.
“Last year, I got sixth in shot put and 16th in discus and, from that point on, my focus was moving myself up on the podium,” Emnett said. “I knew I could do it, as long as I put the time and effort into it.”
So that’s exactly what she did.
When nobody was looking, Paige Emnett was working. When her classmates were sleeping, Paige Emnett was working. Even when she didn’t feel like getting up early or going to the gym or the track, Paige Emnett was working.
“The major difference from junior to senior year was my weightlifting and my extra hours put in at the track. During junior year, I played basketball and participated in track, but as a senior, I only did track,” Emnett said. “This allowed me to start my track season in early September. I went to Crossfit with my parents and continued to do that until mid-April of this year. In September, I started putting in hours at the track and continued to do so until we officially started practice in March. The extra time I spent in the weight room made me stronger, mentally and physically. I was stronger this year than I’ve ever been and I trusted my strength to carry me.”
Her strength carried her to heights she’d never reached before.
Emnett won individual district titles in the shot put (43-8) and discus (130-feet) before setting a Division III regional shot record with a throw of 44-8 while winning a regional title in the discus at 125-6.
Then, she claimed the ultimate prize.
Competing at the 2019 OHSAA Track and Field State Championships, Emnett won the Division III state discus title with a best throw of 139-feet and took second in the shot put at 43-2.5.
She was just one of multiple Pirates to compete in Columbus.
“As a team, we did really well this year. We won most of the invitational meets we went to and we continuously saw PR’s in almost every event,” Emnett said. “We were never focused on our competitors, but we were focused on how we could be better than we were before. We were always trying to beat our previous records rather than just beating the other teams. This led us to a district title and many individuals qualifying for the state meet. My favorite memory of the year is going to the state meet with some of my best friends. It was a true blessing that so many of us qualified and got to experience that together. The amount of talent at the state meet is unreal and I’m so glad we got to compete against the best of the best.”
You could reverse that and say Emnett’s opponents got to compete against the best of the best in Emnett herself. She credits her teammates and coaches for pushing her to the top of the podium.
“I wouldn’t trade my team for the world and I’ve had so much fun with them in the past couple years. I would do anything for them and I know they would do the same for me,” Emnett said. “Even when we weren’t feeling our best, we put forth 100 percent effort for each other. We even picked each other up on our off days. It’s a blessing that we all got along so well and that also goes for the coaches. We loved our coaches and we always did what they asked of us. We have a special bond with them. We respect them as our superiors, but we also joke with them and have a good time. Coach [Paul] Boll and coach [Todd] Ruby are two of the best coaches I’ve ever had and we wouldn’t have made it this far without them. My teammates and I are just as close with our coaches as we are with each other and that’s why we had so much success.”
Emnett has been selected as Southern Ohio Sports Authority’s Girls Track Athlete of the Year … for obvious reasons. She can add that to an already crowded trophy case at home.
While the hardware is nice, her true hope is that her legacy is what people remember her by. She’ll certainly be rooting for the Pirates from afar next year as her teammates apply the lessons they’ve learned from her, during their time together.
“The girls will continue to thrive and succeed, considering we had so many young athletes this year. One thing I hope they all learned from me is to never give up and to always keep pushing,” Emnett said. “At the beginning of the season, I told them that my goal was to win state. At the time, I didn’t believe in that goal nor did I think I would ever get there. But I still set that goal for myself. Hopefully, my teammates saw the time, sweat, and dedication that went into that state title. I stayed after practice to get extra throws in and, sometimes, I practiced twice a day. I hope they understand how much dedication you have to have if you really want to succeed. Also, I hope they will never forget to enjoy the moment. I tried to make every practice and meet as much fun as I could with them. I like to joke around a lot, but I also knew when to be serious. I want them to continue to succeed in all they do while enjoying every step along the way.”