Jabari Bennett: Arriving & Going Out With A Bang

In the day's first event, the 6A boys shot put, Washington-Lee once again was the first team to put its stamp on the victors' podium, as Jabari Bennett duplicated former General Benedict Draghi's winning effort of 2017, breaking Draghi's state meet record in the process with a toss of 64 feet, and 6.5 inches.

Bennett, who transferred from Maryland's James Hubert Blake High after his junior year, has blossomed under the tutelage of W-L throwing coach Josh Patulski, who also trained Draghi. The senior has added almost seven feet to his shot PR, and there is a curiosity as to how much his discus best of 126 feet will improve come spring time.

There was no curiosity about who would win his event as Bennett held over a 12-foot advantage over the second-seeded thrower.

But there were other motivating factors. Draghi's state meet record of 61-7 was toward the top of the list, and Bennett topped that with a 62-4 effort on his third throw.

On Throw 4, Bennett added a shade over seven inches to his record mark, nudging him closer to the 64-foot PR that he set last week at the 6A North Region meet.

He almost decimated the mark on his next throw. Urging the support of the crowd with a request for rhythmic clapping, Bennett spun out and uncorked a throw which landed two feet short of the padded barrier, and then bounced over.

As the marker found its place, the rumblings among the crowd started, with 65, 66 feet being the most common guesses. But the throw was never measured as Bennett slipped out of the left side of the throwing circle, drawing a foul and negating the effort.

It wouldn't be a wasted effort.

"That pumped me up," said Bennett, who quickly refocused. "I told myself that it was my last indoor season and I wanted to go out with a bang."

On his final throw, Bennett let loose with another bomb, this toss not quite as far as the previous, but still enough to send the 12-pound ball over the divider on a one-hop. 

The 66-foot throw will have to wait, but Bennett did launch the ball 64 feet and 6.5 inches for a PR and a 13-foot win.

A lot of options have opened for Bennett, and he is quick to praise his new coach.

"He (Patulski) is an incredible coach," said Bennett. "He is able to find small details in my technique, and he shows me how to fix them."

Bennett has also found unorthodox methods to help his progress. Exercises to enhance his flexibility are helping as is a regular dose of yoga. "It helps me loosen up parts that I don't work as much. It's good mentally, kind of a mind, body and soul (workout)."

Colleges are lining up for his services, with Auburn, Maryland, Purdue and Tiffin (OH) showing the most interest right now. Bennett is not close to making a final decision, but he plans to do so in early April.

A school with a communications major will certainly find its way toward the top of Bennett's list. "I love films and I would like to be a film producer," adding that his admiration of the cinema started with a film class in middle school. However, at this time, he has no favorite genre.

But there is still a Nationals meet and outdoor season to finish before his prep career comes to an end. Bennett, who joined his first track team at the age of eight, and started throwing soon after, would like to get another PR next week, and then push his shot toward the 70-foot barrier outside.