Four years ago, Davis Hedrick was a 5-foot-11, 195-pound freshman playing three sports at St. Paul.
But a nudge from someone under his own roof at home — who just so happens to be the most decorated female track athlete in school history — sent Hedrick on a career trajectory that no one could have predicted.
On Friday, Hedrick will walk into Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus at an impressive 6-foot-4, 285 pounds. He also just may be the prohibitive favorite to win both the shot put and discus throw Division III state championships, scheduled for 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
To understand how far Hedrick has come in four years, his demeanor when asked the obvious question was clear. The senior isn’t nervous or afraid of what lies in front of him.
“Just watch what I can do,” Hedrick said. “People keep asking me if I’m going to win it all, and all I keep saying is to watch me throw on Friday. It will speak for itself, one way or the other.
“Obviously I have confidence coming into it, but those are just numbers and rankings that can change in the blink of an eye,” he added. “Hopefully I perform the way I can. We’ll see who has the best throw on Friday … but my mindset says it’s going to be me.”
Sister knows best
Davis played football in the fall, swam in the winter and did baseball in the spring of his freshman year in 2015-16.
But it was his sister, Meghan, a 2018 St. Paul graduate, who helped push Davis on the path to track and field stardom.
“Davis a really hard worker,” Meghan said. “When he sets his mind to something, he gets relentless and determined. He was aways a good athlete, but also always really strong. I knew if he did track he’d do well … I just wanted to see him succeed.”
Meghan is the only female in school history to medal in four state events in the same season. All told, she earned six All-Ohio medals, ran in 10 events at the state championships — and is one of the few NCAA Div. I athletes from St. Paul, where she just wrapped up her freshman year at Ball State University.
“She pushed me to be my best no matter what I did,” Davis said. “So her being with me those two years was really special — especially going to state last year.”
Last year at state, Davis was seventh in the shot put while Meghan earned her four All-Ohio placements on relay teams.
“It meant the world to me to go to state with my sister,” he said. “It was one of the coolest things I’ve done in high school. My family has always been real supportive of whatever I did.”
In the discus throw a year ago in Columbus, Hedrick placed seventh with a best throw of 149-feet-10-inches.
Last weekend at the Div. III regional meet in Tiffin, he threw 30-plus feet further than that at 179-feet-5.
In the discus, Hedrick has consistently been in the 160s in distance. The shot put has seen the same, steady increase in consistency in the upper 50s.
How did it happen? Davis sacrificed swimming this season and went all in.
“I lived in the weight room,” he said. “I kept my head down and just grinded as much as I possibly could. My social life suffered from it, but it’s worth it in the end.”
It’s hard to argue with the results. He’s broken the school records in both throws multiple times this spring — and has put himself in position to win two state titles in the process.
“I put the time in when no one was watching,” he said. “It’s starting to pay off. Definitely put the time in during the winter time and just went after it.”
The increase in performance has also allowed for his confidence to soar.
“Absolutely, I love the pressure,” Davis said. “Throughout the season I’ve been able to rise up. Pressure just kind of fuels me. I always throw to whoever is in front of me with the mindset that I’m going to catch them. I’m the underdog and I’m going to show you what I can do.”
From her view, Meghan believes her brother didn’t just get bigger and stronger over the years.
“I think it’s not only his physical transformation, but he’s an entirely different person mentally as well,” she said. “I’ve seen him completely dedicate all his time toward it. He became an even harder worker and learned a lot of self-discipline.”
Davis enters Friday with the top discus throw by three inches with his 179-5 last week. His shot put mark from the regional, 56-feet-6.5, is the second-best throw entering that event.
But if he is to become a state champion, he’ll have to do things differently. The shot put is at 1 p.m. and the discus soon follows at 4 p.m. Gone are the days of the events being held on separate days.
Hedrick is one of eight competitors who will be in both events.
“I’ve had a couple days here where I’ve been able to practice both shot and disc at the same time and sort of ran through the pacing of it,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge like nothing I’ve seen before this season, but I just have to rise up and take on the challenge headstrong. I know I can do it. Bring it on.”
That confident mindset has been the mantra for Hedrick all season. Now that he’s on the doorstep of his final high school sporting event, he’s even more emboldened than ever.
“Of course it is (on my mind),” Davis said of winning a state title. “Ever since I found out what it’s about, being a state champion has never left my mind all four years of high school. But to be this close to being able to do something like that, it’s haunting.
“This week has been probably the most stressful I’ve ever had, just thinking about the opportunity,” he added. “But I’ve always been able to keep a positive mindset and been able to keep my eyes focused on the future. I’m going to keep going and nothing is going to stop me.”