By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It seems like every meet almost West Salem’s Natalie Cunningham is breaking her own shot put record.
In the Titan Track Classic, Cunningham set a then record of 42-feet-7.5-inches on April 1. She nearly matched that again on April 19 against McNary. Cunningham then PR’d and broke her record for the first time on April 26 with a throw of 42-feet-9.5-inches against South Salem.
Three days later the senior, who’s going to Portland State University for soccer, once more surpassed her previous high mark at the Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays. This time by six-inches with a throw of 43-feet-5.5-inches.
Cunningham is happy to see how she’s doing so far in her final year, going from hitting 40-feet once the previous two years to hitting the mark four times in seven meets. Not to mention getting stronger as the season progresses that has the senior readjusting her goals entering the homestretch of her Prep Career.
“I’m excited for myself and I don’t want to settle. I want to hit 45 (feet) by the end of State. I know there’s only three more track meets including State…Soccer is my main sport, but I enjoy doing track. I want to see if I can do throw in college at Portland State,” Cunningham said.
The drive within. The will to be a better competitor has helped motivate and spark Cunningham this Spring. Her goal since her freshman year has been to set the school record, and now she’s here at this point, she wants to continue to keep it up.
And being able to balance the stresses of soccer training and club with the track season has been pretty neat for the senior.
“It’s been a little bit of a challenge, I think. My coaches have understood where I’m at,” “It feels good to be talented in two sports. But to be working in two sports, you still get the stressor side because you have to focus on ‘ok I have to leave track early to go to soccer practice’ and ‘oh this day I don’t go to track because I have to go to soccer practice’.
“But I’ve been able to balance both and succeed in both. I won the State Cup this weekend and I also won the Twilight Relays. I think I’ve been able to balance the two.”
Cunningham is part of the Eastside Timbers 04G Red team that brought home the State Title in Tualatin this past Sunday after winning the Twilight Meet Friday.
On Monday, Cunningham was working on some of her footwork in the shotput pit. Working towards her goal of 45-feet in the event with Sprague coming up the hill Tuesday before the Mountain Valley Conference Championships May 12 and 13. State for 6A is slated for May 20 and 21 at Hayward Field in Eugene.
“If I could get my feet down and footwork which I’m working on right now. With that and the combination of my strength, I could probably hit 45,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham also hit her season-best in Discus Friday at the Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays with a throw of 121-feet-three-inches.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald