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CLEARWATER - Countryside senior Danielle Biaso has been successful in the discus and shot put throughout her high school career, but one thing has always been missing - the bragging rights that come with competing at state.
Biaso has placed first at meets and invitationals throughout her first three years as a Cougar, but admits that when it came to the big meets she would allow herself to be intimidated by opponents before taking her first throw.
Not this season.
Thanks in part to a new strategy, Biaso placed first in discus and third in shot at regionals, qualifying for state.
"My goal since this season started was to become more consistent and make it to states, " Biaso said. "When I qualified, I felt excited.
"A person I rely on for comfort is my friend Nicole Kennedy. When I told her (I qualified for states) we screamed and jumped around like 12-year-olds."
It's okay for some athletes to get scouting reports and check out opponents before big events, but Biaso's new strategy blocks out the competition and concentrates on her own skills.
"My basketball coach taught me this new mentality, " she said. "The mentality is, I go in as a big dog and go in ready for a fight. It actually works."
Cougars basketball coach Mike Weaver told Biaso to go out and do her best and not worry about what the other athletes were doing. This belief is part of a bigger outlook called cybernetics.
"Your mind is like a computer, " Weaver said. "Whatever you put into it is what you'll pull out of it. If garbage goes in, garbage comes out. I think all athletes, no matter how talented they are, are their biggest demons."
Basically, cybernetics includes blocking out opponents, officials, fans and even coaches, and simply using your skills to do your best.
Biaso is proof of the concept. At a track meet this season at Clearwater High, she was first in the discus, shot put and high jump. At the West Coast Invitational, Biaso was first in shot, first in discus and named most valuable athlete in field events.
And two weeks ago she qualified for regions by placing in the top four in all three of her specialty events, including wins in the discus and shot.
"In the past, I've always choked at big meets, including the Disney showcase, regionals and the Florida relays, " Biaso said. "This year I have a different mind-set - to be the one to come out with more heart and fight."
Format: Field events start at 1 p.m., running finals at 7. Trophies go to the team champion and runnerup. Medallions are awarded to the top eight individuals and relay teams.
Where: Showalter Field, Winter Park
When: Class 3A, Friday; Class 4A, Saturday
Directions: Take Interstate 275 to I-4; exit at Fairbanks and travel east. Follow through Winter Park (road name changes to Aloma) to light at Lakemont Ave. Turn right on Lakemont, pass Winter Park Hospital and turn left at next light (Mizell Ave.) Turn right on Perth (just past parking lot for the Wellness Center). Follow Perth through Ward Park to Showalter parking lot at the far end on the right.