GREENFIELD — The officials were gone. The competitors left. Feeling somewhat bitter, Samantha Gable sat next to the shot put ring all alone.
As someone who built a reputation for never shying away from a challenge, Gable was far from content. Her 23rd-place finish at the IHSAA State Finals as a sophomore, to her standards, was simply not good enough.
“She came up to me and looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘I don’t ever want to feel that way again,’” former Greenfield-Central head track coach Jan Hacker said. “She sat there for a long time.”
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After advancing to state in just the shot put her first two seasons of high school, Gable kicked her training into another gear. She would qualify for state in both the shot put and discus her junior and senior seasons.
Now, nearly a decade after graduating in 2008, Gable still sits atop the record book at Greenfield-Central. Her throw of 44 feet, 10 inches in the shot put remains the best in school history. In the discus throw, Gable is tied for second with a toss of 135 feet, two inches.
“It was a rough season after having a solid freshman year,” said Gable, who eventually finished a personal-best fourth overall at state in the shot put as a junior. “I was pushing myself to be the best, so I put a lot of pressure on myself.
“That is a part of athletics, but I pick myself up and keep going — no matter what happens.”
After throwing 36-02.5 as a sophomore, which was down nearly 2 feet from her state throw as a freshman, Gable tossed the shot put 44-03 at state as a junior. She would finish seventh overall as a senior (42-03.25).
And although she is officially done with high school track and field, Gable has found a way to stay busy. After a successful five-year career throwing at Miami University in Ohio, Gable, who teaches kindergarten at Eden Elementary and coaches junior high track at Greenfield Central, needed another activity to remain physically active.
With a background in track and a workout routine still intact, Gable has participated in three Strongwoman competitions the last two years. In February, she finished second overall in her weight class at the 2017 Strongest Southern Belle competition in Kentucky to qualify for the national meet in Michigan on June 25.
“I have been lifting four days a week for 13 years now, I started lifting before high school,” Gable said, who first started with her father. “All I had to do was keep my training going, my heavy weight lifting, and on some Saturdays I would do Strongman training.
“This meet (in Kentucky), everything was timed so it was more of cardiovascular training than anything, which makes it harder than some of the other meets I have done.”
The events, Gable explained, are similar to that of a Strongman competition and include familiar lifts like the Viking Press, the Atlas Stones and the Farmer’s Walk. There was also a sandbag carry and a chain drag medley, where competitors drag a chain hooked to a big tire. Gable took third in both the chain drag, finishing in 24.61 seconds, and the Farmer’s Walk, carrying 175 pounds in each arm 60 feet in 9.61 seconds.
However, Gable’s best finishes of the day were in the Atlas Stone carry and the Progressive Deadlift, finishing second overall. She lifted the 185-pound stone 11 times and did 18 repetitions up to 295 pounds on the deadlift in one minute.
“I wanted to get back into a sport,” Gable said. “Weightlifting in a gym by yourself is fun, but there is no competition aspect to it. Some people at the gym suggested I would be good at it, and I started training and doing meets.
“It is really just a lot of time management. Sometimes I wake up and do cardio before school and go back to the gym after school and track practice.”
Hacker, who is now retired from coaching after a long career with Greenfield-Central, said she is not surprised Gable has remained close to athletics.
“By (Gable’s) nature, she is a very driven, very competitive person,” Hacker said. “She keeps striving until she reaches her goal. She has always had that type of personality, and she pushed herself to another level. She just inspires other people to be better.
“She is like that with everything she does.”
Gable explained that the Strongwoman world is small but continues to grow. She saw only saw four girls when competing in 2015 and seven girls last year. At her most recent competition, there were 35 girls.
It is so small, in fact, that Gable actually took second in Kentucky to a girl she competed against in college. Mekayla Breland, who was on the track and field team at the University of Cincinnati, was a familiar face for Gable.
“We threw quite a bit against each other in college,” Gable said. “When I saw her, it took me back to competing in track. It was really cool to see her and compete against her again.”
Her freshman season at Miami University, Gable qualified for junior nationals in the hammer throw and went to the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a junior.
Now, Gable, who said she plans to keep active with the sport for as long as her body allows, serves as a positive role model for the junior high track team and young students at Eden Elementary. She said some of her athletes and students have shown interest in her life outside of coaching and teaching.
“I show them videos, and I try to get the young girls involved,” Gable said. “There is a stigma that girls can’t lift weights and can’t be strong. It is the complete opposite.
“All kids needs to learn at a young age that women can be strong, and you shouldn’t be afraid to do anything.”