Victoria Merriweather during a competition. Photo provided by Charlotte Athletics

Victoria Merriweather entered the history books for Charlotte athletics after recording a third place finish in the NCAA National Championships for weight throws, holding the best finish by a female athlete in program history.

After transferring high schools her sophomore year, Merriweather’s new track coach told her she would be a thrower. The senior track star embarked on a journey, teaching herself along the way, and became one of the top throwers in the state of South Carolina.

While she was beginning to compete in the throwing category, Merriweather was still jumping at meets as well. Trying to be competitive in both throwing and jumping took a toll on the athlete. This led to Merriweather eventually choosing to drop jumping all together.

“If you ever go to a track meet and see how it’s set up, sometimes people have to run back and forth between events. I remember it like it was yesterday, I told that coach I was not going to long jump anymore, that I was only going to do throws or I was going to quit the team. That same week I threw 20 feet further in the discus. That’s like a year’s worth of increase,” Merriweather said.

During her high school campaign, Merriweather made multiple appearances in the state championships. She began her collegiate career at South Carolina State University. There she was introduced to weight throwing.

“It was good because it was new, so no bad habits come along with it. When you teach yourself something, a lot of times you can teach yourself wrong and a coach will have to break those bad habits,” Merriweather said.

The determination and dedication Merriweather used in her high school days translated over to college as well.

“You can have a coach who knows everything, but if you’re not willing to learn and put the practice in outside of when you’re actually at practice then you’re not going to get better,” Merriweather said.

Merriweather learned her throw and became good enough to catch the eye of Charlotte throw coach Kyle Helf during a competition.

“Her freshman year at South Carolina State, I had no idea who she was and we were competing at the same meet, I saw her throwing and I made the comment ‘Oh man, I would love to coach someone like that,’” Helf said.

She ended her time at South Carolina State University when she and her coaches made the decision that she was being limited. That’s when Merriweather made the move to the Queen City.

The attitude Merriweather brings to the field helps encourage those surrounding her. It is something that Helf values as a coach.

“She’s always smiling and excited 99 percent of the time, anytime you have that it adds a positive influence to the team. It’s not always about having someone who can throw far, sure that makes your training group good, but if you have people together that can gel that really pushes the group as a whole further,” Helf said.

In both her sophomore and junior season, Merriweather finished third in conference for the weight throw.

For her senior season, Helf and Merriweather made it a goal to make it to nationals. One thing that changed was her overall mindset.

“This season in particular I feel like I’ve had a lot of people who believed in me and believed I would do well, but for once I actually believed in myself. Coaches can do all they can and they can believe in you, but them believing in you doesn’t help you when you’re inside the ring. It has to be you who believes in yourself,” Merriweather said.

With a new mindset and continued training with Helf, Merriweather posted a stellar 2017 indoor season, including multiple first place finishes and shattering record after record. The season was capped with a first-place finish at the C-USA championships and a berth to NCAA championships. The thrower entered the competition ranked 14th out of the 16 competitors.

“It was something I really worked hard for and it felt like everything was coming full circle for me finally,” Merriweather said. “With track you never know, sometimes people can bring it and sometimes they can leave it. I feel like it was a really good day for me when it came competition day.”

Merriweather showed up ready to compete, throwing a Charlotte program record 21.42 meters. Little did she know, her following throw would top that, coming in at 21.48 meters. In her third and final throw of the day Merriweather would best herself for the once again, recording a 21.74 meters and solidifying a third-place finish.

The finish is the best from a female athlete in Charlotte in a NCAA National Championships. These accomplishments will give the senior motivation through her future endeavors.

“Though a lot of people can see that I do well frequently, it’s a whole different level to go down in a history book, that means you’re doing something right. I feel like I’ll be able to always look back on that and draw off of that if I’m ever somewhere where I feel like I can’t be enough, remember that I always can because I’ve done it before

Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the junior communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.