BY DEAN CRIDDLE – News-Democrat
One of the least experienced of the 13 competitors in the finals of the shot put at the Class 2A state track and field meet, Armstead found himself in second place with one throw left — his.
“The pressure was on, but in a situation like that, you just try to block out all the outside distractions,” Armstead said. “I just kind of walked around a little bit, gathered myself and just basically told myself that I wasn’t going to lose.”
In just his second year of throwing the shot put and in the biggest meet of his life, Armstead came up with a throw of 57-feet, 7-inches as he nipped Matt Smith of Mount Zion (57-3 1/2) to win the title.
“I was concentrating on not fouling and on my last throw, I just tried to put a little more on it,” Armstead said. “It was just enough.”
Thanks to the efforts of Armstead and state long jump champion Laderrick Ward, the Comanches went on to place second in the Class 2A state meet.
Armstead, who also excelled in the discus, has been named the News-Democrat Class 1A-2A Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Armstead, who had a season best throw of 61-0 1/4 at the St. Clair County Meet in May, said he was pleased at his winning toss. But it could have been better.
“It was a good throw. I wish I could have gone a little farther, set the bar a little higher for the guys next year. But it was a successful throw,” Armstead said. “If there was a disappointment, it was not making the (state) finals in the discus. It was more of a disappointment for my team, though.
“I had a couple of good throws in the preliminary round that were just out bounds.”
While Armstead completed his high school athletic career with a state title in track, his first love has always been football.
Armstead was an offensive lineman and defensive end for a Comanches team that reached the Class 5A semifinals last fall.
Armstead traced his success in both sports to the improved quickness and strength he has gained over the last two years. A diligent worker in the weight room, Armstead has gone from bench pressing 225 pounds a year ago to 375.
Headed to the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Armstead will compete in both track and field and football for the Golden Lions.
“I’ve been working in the weight room and getting ready for football season. I’m almost ready,” Armstead said. “I’ve got to get faster and quicker if I want to play defensive end at the college level. I’d rather play defense. It’s more physical.”
Cahokia track coach Leroy Millsap, who guided the Comanches to Class AA state titles in 2006 and 2007, feels Armstead is a better prospect in track than football.
“If he would concentrate on just track instead of football, there is no doubt in my mind that he could be one of the top six throwers in the nation as a freshman,” Millsap said. “With his smarts and his work ethic, Terron could be a world-class athlete in track and field if he chooses to.
“Some kids get to a certain point and that’s good enough for them. Terron continues to try and get better and better all the time. He’s smart, very strong and quick. For a kid 6-5, 280 pounds, you wouldn’t believe how quick he is.”
Armstead said he became more of a track and field student this season.
“This year. I just knew more about it and got more of a feel about throwing both the shot and the discus,” Armstead said. “I also watched videos of guys throwing, came out and practiced more and I also got stronger and got quicker across the (throwing) ring.
“I would recommend that both track and football athletes do both sports. They correspond with each other so much. You want to be bigger, faster and stronger and track helps you out with football.”
Armstead plans to major in technology engineering at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.