Westover’s Dontrevious Ousley is not only the top-ranked discus thrower in Georgia regardless of classification, but he will lead Westover today in Jefferson, where the Patriots are also hoping to win the Class AAA team state title. (Herald file photo)
ALBANY — It just felt right.
The first time Dontrevious Ousley picked up a discus and held it in his hand, the feel, the touch and the marriage all felt just right.
Nothing else did that day.
That’s part of the irony about Ousley’s incredible and improbable rise to the top of a sport he once knew nothing about. Nope, he had shown up at track & field practice at Westover two years ago as sophomore to do one thing.
“I was a runner,’’ Ousley said. “I was going to run the 100.’’
But when Ousley arrived with his friend McKenny Martin, nothing felt right. He felt out of place, awkward and a bit shy. You know, that feeling of what-am-I-doing-here?
So he never made it to the track to run the 100-meter dash.
“I felt bad,’’ Ousley said. “I didn’t know what to do, so I followed (Martin) over to where they were throwing the shot put and discus.’’
Martin is short and stocky and is one of the best blocking fullbacks in Southwest Georgia. He has the build and the strength to be a natural in the shot put, where he has risen to be the No. 1-ranked Class AAA shot putter in Georgia. Ousley was built nothing like a discus thrower.
Even now, two years later after spending countless hours in the weight room, Ousley’s natural build defies logic. He’s only 5-foot-9 and weighs 175 pounds.
But, sure enough, he’s ranked in the Top 10 in the nation in the discus, and when he threw 190 feet this spring, he became only the fourth athlete in the history of Georgia to throw a discus that distance.
“When you hear about a guy throwing a discus 190 feet, you expect to see somebody who is 6-4 and 230 pounds with a big wingspan,’’ said Westover athletic director Harley Calhoun, who coaches the track & field team along with coach Lewis Smith. “Dontrevious is 5-9, 175 with no wingspan!’’
But he is a giant in his sport.
“He’s got one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen,’’ Calhoun said. “He has a passion for the discus, a passion. That’s what it is. And he never lets the fact that everyone is bigger than him bother him.’’
Ousley just beats them.
He finished fifth in the state as a sophomore, then won the Class AAA state title last year as a junior. He’s not only the top-ranked discus thrower in Georgia regardless of classification, but he will lead Westover today in Jefferson, where the Patriots are also hoping to win the Class AAA team state title.
It wasn’t always that way. As a sophomore, Ousley began the discus with more interest than strength. He embraced the sport and made it a part of himself, mastering the form and technique he needed to succeed while waiting for the strength to join the party.
“I tried to learn everything about the form and technique,’’ said Ousley, who was such a dedicated student of the event that he took the discus home every night and practiced on his own.
He looked for help everywhere.
“I learned everything I could about it. I went to the computer and read about it, and I watched a lot of YouTube,’’ Ousley said. “I watched high school, college and Olympics.’’
The light switch went on the day Ousley watched a YouTube video of Virglijus Alekna, a two-time gold medalist in the Olympics from Lithuania.
“I really like Alekna,’’ Ousley said. “He has a full wingspan, and I watched the way he (comes all the way back) when he throws. I tried to do the same move. I figured as long as I’m out here, I would do everything to be my best. After I learned that first move, I started learning a lot about technique. I would take my discus home and work on technique.’’
Ousley and teammate Derrick Akins, a senior who finished second in the Class AAA last year behind Ousley, learned together.
“They had great form even as sophomores,’’ Calhoun said. “Everywhere we would go people would say, ‘They have the prettiest form, but they just can’t throw it anywhere.’ They couldn’t throw it 120 feet, but they had great form.’’
Calhoun had a feeling about Ousley even on that first day.
“When I first saw him, I noticed he was very quick with his feet,’’ Calhoun said. “One thing I look for in a discus thrower is good feet, and he was exceptionally quick with his feet. When he started, he couldn’t throw it 120 feet, but he kept working and getting better. And then at the region meet, he chucked one 160 feet, and I was like, ‘Where did that come from?’ He threw it 149 feet at the state meet and finished fifth. His technique got better and better. He would just stay in the weight room. Dontrevious and Derrick both worked hard in the weight room and got stronger and stronger.”
Ousley bench presses 300 pounds and power cleans 295.
“I just pushed myself to get stronger,’’ he said.
The progression was amazing to watch, Calhoun said.
“His hands are no bigger than my hands, and usually a discus thrower has huge hands,” he added. “He really liked the discus ... It became his passion.’’
He became so devoted to the discus — he owns nine of them and keeps them in his SUV so he has them all the time, and he practices on his own at a park near his home — that he quit playing football to concentrate on the discus year-round.
“I was thinking to get to the best school, I had to be the best in one thing,’’ said Ousley, who is talking to several Division I schools, including Arizona State, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho and Boise State. “My goal is to break the state record (197-5).”
Ousley has a personal best of 190 feet and 5 inches, and the state record is 30 years old.
But if anyone from Georgia can break it this year, it’s Ousley.
“It’s crazy,’’ Ousley said. “I wasn’t even supposed to throw the discus. I wanted to run, but I felt so uncomfortable I just walked over to (the shot put and discus area) with McKenny. But it felt right when I put it in my hands. It just felt right. Now I love the discus.’’
WESTOVER HAS HIGH HOPES OF WINNING THE STATE TITLE: All the field events are today — and it’s the biggest day of the meet for Westover.
The Patriots finished second in the Class AAA meet last year behind perennial powerhouse Carrollton, but Calhoun feels his kids have enough — with some luck — to win it all.
Charles Drew High is the favorite in the Class AAA meet and is the opposite of Westover, which is counting on a big day in the field. Drew doesn’t have anyone in the field events, and will put its hopes on the track Saturday when the finals are run.
“We want to get out of the field with 40 points,’’ Calhoun said. “We’ve led every meet after the field events this year. We need to get the lead and then hang on. Who knows? Drew may drop the baton.’’
Drew has the top seeds in both relays, the 100 and 200, and it also has the No. 2 seed in the 200, as well as the No. 3 seed in the 400. Drew has the ability to score more than 50 points.
Westover is loaded in the field. Aside from Ousley, Dolphurs Hayes is the No. 1-ranked pole vaulter in Class AAA, and Martin is the No. 1 shot putter. Akins should get Westover points in the discus, and Don Mills is seeded sixth in the shot put. Those are the horses.
Westover also has Brandon Hudson (high jump) and Delweun Knighton (long jump) competing today, but neither is seeded in the top eight.
Jackie Childs has the best chance of scoring points on the track. He is seeded fourth in the 110-meter hurdles and 15th in the 300 hurdles. Craig Reddix (400), Jeremy Bonner (800) and the 4x400 relay team (Reddix, Childs, Scott Sanders and Bonner) have all qualified, but are seeded below the top eight in each event. If they come through on the track and pick up some points, Westover could win the title.
“It’s going to be such a close meet this year,’’ Calhoun said. “There will be about 10 points separating the first-place team and the fifth-place team, so every point is going to count, every point is important.
“The biggest advantage we have is we will get (most of) our points (today). We will have our points in the bank. We have been here before. All our kids have been to the state track meet, so there won’t be any first-time jitters. We were second last year, and they didn’t like that feeling of standing there and watching Carrollton up on the podium. They’re hungry.’’
THE REST OF THE BEST REPRESENTING SOUTHWEST GEORGIA: Monroe will send Kevin Williams in the long jump and Larry Bellamy in the 300 hurdles, while Dougherty’s 4x100 relay team (Shaquille Wheeler, Tylandus Chester, Kione Brown and Amand Ross) and Worth County’s Dale Pate (3,200) will all compete in the Class AAA meet.
Albany High is loaded and prepared to make some noise in the Class AA meet, starting today with Jontavious Morris and Roscoe Byrd, who are seeded Nos. 1 and 2 in the discus, respectively. Byrd is seeded seventh in the shot put, and his brother Emmanul is seeded seventh in the high jump. The Indians can score on the track, too, with Jeconiah Williams (400, 800), Gregory Williams (200) and its 4x100 relay team (Jeconiah Jackson, Jerrod Williams, Kalis Armstrong and Emmanul Byrd).
Early County is sending Lorenzo Davis (400), Jonathan Davidson (1,600), Antrell Morgan (high jump) and Kenneth Wynn (high jump) to the Class AA meet.
In Class AAAA Lee County’s Jacob Kennedy will try to win the 1,600- and 3,200-meter titles, and Bainbridge is sending Craig Cooper (high jump), Rhyan Edwards (400), Dontravious Jackson (300 hurdles), Hubert Thomas (400) and its 4x400 relay team (Alton Miller, Edwards, Thomas and Jackson) to the AAAA meet.
GREENWAVE LOOK TO MAKE WAVES IN CLASS A: Terrell County has a chance to win it all in the Class A state meet. The Greenwave are sending their best group in years to Jefferson, led by Bernard Lumpkin, who qualified in the long jump, 100 and 200, and he also runs on the 4x100 relay team. Jerkerious Scott is in the 100 and 200 and runs on both relay teams. Tracy Chick (400), Ismael Hayes (800) and Jatoria Jones (high jump) can all score for Terrell as well as the Greenwave’s 4x100 relay team (Chick, Scott, Jones and Lumpkin) and the 4x400 relay team (Chick, Hayes, Scott and DeWalt Davis).
Pelham, which won the state title two years ago, is sending Jacob Carr (pole vault) and Sean Klooster (high jump), and Mitchell is sending Quinton Wynn (triple jump) to the Class A state meet. Miller’s 4x100 relay team (Josh Kenon, Jeremy Stephens, Jacolby Jones and Marvin Grant) qualified as well as Calhoun County’s 4x400 relay team (Dajon Williams, Xavier Johnson, Isaiah Hallmon and Rodderick McKenzie).
Baconton Charter’s Bryton Wenzel qualified for the 800 and 1,600 in the Class A meet.