Mensi Stiff didn’t become a thrower. Throwing became her.
Shot put and discus have become her way of life through the winter and rain. Her offseasons are as demanding as her schedule of meets in the spring.
Initially, she wasn't sure she even wanted to do it.
In sixth grade at Brentwood Academy, a coach pulled her from the 400-meter run and suggested the shot put. She tied the school record two weeks later.
“I was upset and wanted to beat it,” Stiff said. “The next year is when I really started throwing more.”
Stiff has turned into a record-breaking machine her sophomore season at Brentwood Academy. She already owns both school records in the shot and discus.
Last week she claimed both titles at the Great Eight Invitational at Harpeth Hall. That morning her mom Angie received a Facebook memory notification: Four years earlier to the day was when she threw her first competition.
Now Stiff's name is one to watch as the state meet approaches.
“I didn’t want to throw at all at first, but they made me do it. After a while I realized I was pretty good at it,” Stiff said. “I train almost every day. Something clicked with me where I don’t want to be average, I want to be the best.”
Steve Wade, who graduated from Tyner Academy with the TSSAA state discus record in 1982 before playing football at Vanderbilt, has been her coach at Brentwood Academy the past two years.
Wade got the itch to coach throwers when his son, Steve Jr., became a teenager. He installed a shot ring in the backyard. Steve Jr. went on to win shot put titles in 2010 and 2011 during his dad’s 11-year tenure at Brentwood High.
Stiff has been an ideal student.
In shot put, she’s transitioned to a more technical rotation throw — a body spin motion — as opposed to the glide technique under Wade’s instruction.
Stiff’s discus (142-11) and shot put (43-2.5) marks rank first among Tennessee girls in her division this year. Last Saturday, her 141-6 discus and 45-09 shot throws broke the Charlie Harper Relays meet records.
She broke the school shot put record with a 43-6.75 at the Tennessee State Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama in February. She had already broken the discus record as a freshman with a 138-2.
Her top throws this year rank in the top five among sophomores nationally, Wade said.
Brentwood Academy has produced champion throwers recently. Victoria Caldwell and Camille Caldwell combined for four discus state championships from 2014-19.
Stiff could one day join them.
She’s put basketball aside and fully committed to throwing.
“Time will tell (her potential),” Wade said. “If you can throw it 155-160 feet in discus and 46 feet in shot as a junior, you’ll get looked at by some big programs.”