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Desert Oasis’ Nick Benham dominates shot put at Sunset Region meet

Coming in as a heavy favorite in the boys shot put, Nick Benham did not disappoint.

The Desert Oasis senior dominated on Day 1 of the region track meets with a throw of 53 feet, 9 inches. It was more than 7 feet better than second place and gave the Diamondbacks boys team an early winner in the Sunset Region meet Saturday at Foothill.

“It’s not what I wanted, but it got the job done,” Benham said. “Now we can go big at state.”

The wind was blowing right into the throwers’ faces, preventing Benham from approaching his personal record of 58-1½. But Benham wasn’t concerned with how Saturday went. The day was about the state meet May 19 and 20.

Benham was less worried about qualifying for state than using the region meet to prepare for it. He was the top-seeded thrower in Southern Nevada, and qualifying for state seemed to be such a foregone conclusion that his fifth-best throw would have won the region title.

Even a meet official remarked before his first throw that he had waited all season to see Benham compete.

“My mind has been on state all day,” Benham said. “Just looking forward to state.”

As in control as Benham was, he didn’t get to show off his full repertoire of throws. Next year, he will attend Weber State to compete in four throwing events, but in high school he has to stick to two.

The discus is next weekend, another event Desert Oasis coaches expect Benham to win without much trouble. He has a seeded distance of 179-4, almost 20 feet farther than anyone else in Southern Nevada.

Benham will enter the state meet as the top seed in Southern Nevada in the shot put, and if everything goes according to plan, the discus as well. While the Northern Region might prove to be more of a challenge than the Sunset Region, a state title could be the perfect outgoing gift for Desert Oasis coach Richard Ward, who is retiring after this season.

“We’ve never had a state champion,” Ward said. “We’d sure like to have one this year.”

The top three finishers in each region qualify for state, so joining Benham from the Sunset will be Bishop Gorman’s Kylen Urley (46-5) and Jade Decker (45-5½).

Liberty’s Damahny Whittle won the Sunrise Region shot put at 49-8¼, followed by Coronado’s Chaise Hamilton (47-6½) and Green Valley’s Justin Pearson (46-2).

In the girls throwing events, Abigail Zuhlke of Shadow Ridge won the Sunset Region discus with a throw of 112-10. Centennial’s Kanani Lasike (108-3) was second, and Bishop Gorman’s Jill McPherson-Kellogg (104-4) was third.

Liberty’s Athiya Iese won the Sunrise Region discus at 128-4, followed by Basic’s Ogochukwu Immanuela Nwachukwu (127-5) and Silverado’s Mikaila Becze (110-6).

The boys will throw the discus next weekend at Foothill, and the girls will throw the shot put.

“I’m pretty confident,” Benham said. “Hopefully the wind cooperates.”

Contact Justin Emerson at jemerson@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.

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