Shiner St. Paul senior signs with Texas A&M

Nov. 13, 2017 at 10:12 p.m.

Shiner St. Paul's Parker Clay, front row, center, signed a letter of intent to participate in track and field at Texas A&M in the fall. Joining Parker for the ceremony Monday in the St. Paul gym were front row, left to right, father, Terry, and mother, Juli, and back row, coaches Dana Beal-Sestak, David Markert and Jake Wachsmuth.

Shiner St. Paul's Parker Clay, front row, center, signed a letter of intent to participate in track and field at Texas A&M in the fall. Joining Parker for the ceremony Monday in the St. Paul gym were front row, left to right, father, Terry, and mother, Juli, and back row, coaches Dana Beal-Sestak, David Markert and Jake Wachsmuth.   Mike Forman for The Victoria Advocate

SHINER - Yoakum's Celine Markert prepared for her freshman season at Texas A&M by working out over the summer with Shiner St. Paul's Parker Clay.

Markert could see Clay's potential in the shot put and discus and asked her father and former Yoakum track and field coach, David Markert, to continue the workouts.

"Celine said, 'Dad, this girl has some ability,'" David Markert recalled. "Of course, she had a long ways to go, and we were starting from scratch. Everything we asked her to do, she's done it. She's an all-sport person, which helps too. She's someone who has improved in everything she does."

Clay's improvement helped her win gold medals in the shot put and discus at the TAPPS state meet as a junior.

She also had the best shot put (43 feet) in the area and the second-best discus throw (116-1).

Clay attended a track and field camp in College Station over the summer, and her performance led to her receiving an offer from Texas A&M.

She signed a letter of intent with the Aggies last week and celebrated her achievement Monday in the St. Paul gym with family, friends, coaches and classmates.

"It's one of the best track programs in the country," Clay said. "They have the best facilities in the country. They were the most amazing people I met throughout this recruiting process. It's just the amount of talent that's there and the amount of humility and closeness that the entire team has."

St. Paul coach and girls athletic director Dana Beal-Sestak has been impressed by Clay's progress and dedication to the sport.

"She took an interest when she was a sophomore and did well at state," Beal-Sestak said. "It was an area that she wanted to focus on and an area she could control because she could spend an enormous amount of time on her own to be a better thrower. Once she got a taste of what she could do, then she just took it and ran."

Clay admits she has gone through some ups and downs with her throwing, but is motivated by the competition.

"It's one of those sports that when you really start doing it, you really find a love for it and it's really cool," she said. "Weather, emotions, everything is a factor. I feel I get in my head a lot with discus and that's the biggest variable. With shot put, it's kind of just go out there and throw it as hard as your can."

Clay plays volleyball and basketball for the Lady Cardinals but works on her throwing in her spare time.

"Her thing is if we gave her a workout and she had to do so much lifting and plyometrics or whatever she had to do, she followed through with it. She's dedicated to the sport. She set goals early, and it's paid off for her."

Clay's goal for her senior season is throwing in the upper 40-feet range in the shot put and over 150-feet in the discus.

David Markert has no doubt those distances are within Clay's reach.

"I think she's going to have a great year this year," he said. "She doesn't only have the opportunity to be the best thrower in the Catholic schools or parochial schools. She has the opportunity to be the best shot putter in the state of Texas - public or private."

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com.


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