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Western Alamance alum throws weight around for Elon

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Lauryn Carlton hasn’t slowed down just because the number of sports she participates in has declined since high school.

She found college athletics demanding in other ways as a member of Elon’s women’s track and field team.

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The Western Alamance alum is a thrower for the Phoenix.

“It’s a constant grind,” she said. “You can have routines, and sometimes your body is just not doing it. But I love it, but it’s very taxing.”

At Western, Carlton was a lineman on the football team and competed for the girls’ basketball, soccer and track and field teams. That meant two spring sports with soccer and track and field, plus she was involved in travel soccer – as a goalkeeper – in the fall along with football.

“For the longest time, I thought I was going to go to college for soccer,” she said.

 

Instead, she found a niche as a collegiate thrower, building on credentials as a two-time state runner-up in the discus in high school. The fifth-year senior’s career hits another juncture when the Coastal Athletic Association championships are held Friday and Saturday at Elon. The Phoenix is looking to add a fourth consecutive CAA team title.

While Carlton propels objects as far as possible, it’s not the physical part of being a college thrower that’s most crucial for her.

“Track is you’re either on or you’re not,” she said. “The mental part of track is insane. This is much harder than a lot of sports I’ve played. It’s not like basketball when if you’re not shooting well, you can go play defense and play team ball.”

Carlton, 23, has won two CAA individual championships, capturing the discus in her first outdoor season as a sophomore in 2021 (the pandemic wiped out the 2020 outdoor slate) and this winter claiming the weight throw in the conference indoor meet.

She said camaraderie among throwers is special from within the team and other teams.

“Everybody is super chill. We all want to see everybody do well,” Carlton said. “We are athletes. If we train for just a little bit, we can do other things.”

Carlton picked Elon where her mother, Barb Carlton, had worked as an assistant director at Elon’s student center. Older brothers Nigel Carlton and Mende Carlton and sister Silken Carlton were all athletes at Western.

Carlton majors in sports management with a minor in business administration. She interned last summer at NASCAR offices in Charlotte.

She was a student worker in game operations for her first four years on campus, though she has been working as a cook at The Cutting Board in Burlington this year.

That’s in advance of relocating to Portland, Oregon, to join a rugby team in June in yet another sports venture.

But first, there’s a final home meet. Carlton will be entered in the shot put, discus and hammer (the outdoor event in place of the indoor weight throw) in this week’s championships.

“I’m probably most consistent at hammer,” she said, noting she learned that from scratch upon entering college. “Are you athletic and coordinated and have a coach who knows what they’re talking about?”

With that, she praises the tutelage from Elon assistant coach Laura Igaune, an Olympic thrower for Latvia.

The CAA meet is special for Carlton for more reasons than her college career is winding down.

“I really like team sports and winning and losing together, growing up and playing team sports,” she said. “Sometimes the only time track is really a team sport is in conference. We’re pretty accustomed to winning conference. I love conference.”

Photos courtesy of Elon Athletics

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