Parks excels at shot put

Robert Smith
Cheyann Parks, at center, is shown here with her mother, Melissa, and her coach, Gary Askew. She is displaying a medal she won throwing the shot put. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

WYNONA — Cheyann Parks isn’t new to sports. Her mother, Melissa, describes her as a “year-round sports person,” but until a couple of months ago that didn’t include the shot put.

The 17-year-old high school junior, who wants to study nursing and athletic training, was known for playing softball and basketball, and she enjoys barrel racing. But then Coach Gary Askew brought track-and-field back to Wynona this semester and Cheyann Parks finished fourth in the shot put last Saturday at the 1A state meet in Oklahoma City.

That’s right, she went to state and placed in an event that was entirely new to her. At regionals she threw four personal bests. She took first place earlier in the season in a meet in spite of running a fever because of an ear infection. She admits she gets a little annoyed when she doesn’t do as well as she would like.

“She’s dedicated,” Melissa Parks says of her daughter. “She’s hardheaded, too.”

Cheyann’s father, David Parks, traveled from New Mexico, where he had been working, to watch his daughter compete in the state meet.

“At first it was kind of weird, but now it’s kind of normal,” Cheyann says of tossing the four-kilogram ball of metal. That’s 8.81 pounds for those of you who don’t do the Metric System.

Wynona initially didn’t have a shot put and had to get one from Copan. Wynona doesn’t have a track facility, so they’re thankful Hominy Public Schools let Wynona’s athletes work out there.

“I think the reason she did so well in regionals is how competitive she is,” Askew said. “Her competitiveness pushed her to do her best.”

It’s the first time Askew has had a track-and-field athlete under his supervision go to state. This is also the first time in several years Wynona has had a track-and-field program; and people say it may be the first time since 1977 that a Wynona Public School athlete or team has been to state.

“I’m just so proud. I get to take my school to state,” Cheyann said in an interview May 1. “I didn’t really know it was going to work out, but Coach helped me to get where I am.”

Coach Askew said Tuesday that Cheyann had a good day at state, but got beaten out for third place on the final throw. He’s hoping she’ll use that as motivation to prepare for her senior season, which fits with the approach she articulated. She commented that she’s always trying to improve.