‘A very strong lady’

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, March 2, 2022

SHS grad Parker excels for Norfolk State track and field team

By Barbara Boxleitner

Contributing Writer

Although Arieana Parker didn’t compete in the weight throw during high school, it has become her choice event during college.

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And with good reason.

The Smithfield High School excels in it.

As of Feb. 24, the Norfolk State University senior ranked first in the weight throw this indoor track and field season among Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women. She held the top spot after a career-best and school-record toss of 60 feet, 10 inches at a Feb. 11-12 meet, where she won the event.

The lone woman in the conference to reach 60 feet in the weight throw, the daughter of Ray and Hope Parker was recognized as the conference’s Field Athlete of the Week for her effort. It was the second consecutive meet she won the event.

She won the weight throw at the next meet, the conference indoor championship, and was named to the all-conference first team.

“My favorite is the weight throw. Not many people can do it,” she said. “I feel like I’m excelling, and I have much more to prove.”

She set the career mark after hurting her back doing the throw earlier in the season. She recovered through rest, daily stretching and treatment. “Heat helps with me,” she said. “I heat it every day for like 15 minutes.”

Ashanti Goodhope, Norfolk State assistant track and field coach, has watched the 5-foot-8 Parker develop as a thrower. She said she was a volunteer coach during her junior and senior years at Smithfield.

Goodhope credited assistant track and field coach Jerry Price for Parker’s improvement. “She progressed very fast,” the coach said. “The progress has been night and day.”

Parker said she thought the shot put, which she threw during high school, would be her best event in college. She set a career-best 41-3 to place fifth in it at the conference indoor championship but hasn’t matched the success she’s had in the weight throw.

All she wants to practice is the weight throw, according to Goodhope. “She will throw the weight until she tires herself out,” the coach said.

“She is a very, very determined athlete as far as getting down her turns and use them to be powerful,” she said. “You definitely have to have coordination. You have to have rhythm. You need that power. She’s a very strong lady.”

Parker started placing high in the weight throw during the 2020 indoor season. She finished with two seconds, a third and a fourth at the conference indoor championship. She won the event during a 2021 indoor meet.

She had to master the technique, notably the spin. Since October she has been working to add a spin, which is her third. “The spin makes it difficult to do,” she said.

During the outdoor season, she competes in the hammer throw in addition to the shot put and discus. She placed fourth in the hammer at the 2021 outdoor conference championship. “It’s lighter. It’s easier to work with,” she said.