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Student Joe Daou practices the shot put at the Santa Monica High School fielf on Wednesday. (photo by Brandon Wise)

CLOVIS — Joe Daou has already broken a 55-year-old school shot put record. Now, after placing first at Friday’s California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Masters Meet, Daou has his sights set on a state title.

Daou, a senior on the Santa Monica High School track and field team, will be among the top contenders at the CIF State Championships. The two-day meet will begin Friday at Buchanan High School in Clovis.

“I’ve thrown against most of the top-10 people in state,” said Daou, who is the only Samohi track and field athlete to have advanced past the CIF-SS Division I Prelims this season. “I know how far they throw. As far as my abilities, I believe that I can come home with a state championship.”

Daou will enter the meet as the third-seeded shot putter, having thrown a personal-best 61’7” at the Masters meet. The mark surpassed his previous best of 61’5 3/4”, set May 22 at the CIF-SS Divisional Finals, where he finished first among Division I competitors and second overall.

That performance came on the heels of another first-place finish at the CIF-SS Division I Prelims. Daou, who in April broke Duncan Ward’s school record of 59’4 1/2”, also took first in several other meets this year, including the Ocean League Finals in early May.

Despite Daou’s dominance this season, Samohi shot put coach Greg Bernard said his pupil hasn’t received his proper due.

“I think Joe’s been overlooked all year. We thought there would be more recruiting of him,” Bernard said of Daou, who will be attending Brown University in the fall. “We’ve just got a little chip on our shoulder.”

Daou hopes to turn heads with another first-place finish in Clovis, but he knows the bigger stage will present another challenge.

“The biggest thing is just trying to handle pressure situations,” Daou said. “I think I’ve done a better job of doing that this year, but the state meet is a whole different thing.”

Daou, who also holds the Samohi record in the discus throw, competed in the event at the CIF-SS Divisional Finals but failed to advance to the Masters meet after a 13th-place finish. His 165’1” throw was well off his record of 184’5 1/4”.

Although surprised by the subpar showing, Samohi track and field coach Pat Cady said not having to worry about the discus throw may help Daou.

“Now he can just concentrate on one thing,” Cady said.

Cady added that Daou has the ability to set another personal record at the state championships.

“He hit the 65-foot line last week and then his heel just grazed the toe board,” Cady said. “We certainly expect him to qualify for the final [at the state championships]. If he can uncork one, he can be the state champion.”

Bernard went even further in his prediction.

“Don’t be surprised if he goes 67 [feet]. We’ve reset his goal.”

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