Ames' Corey Phillips will play college football and basketball. But he's a great discus thrower, too
When Corey Phillips goes out in public around Ames, it doesn't take long for people to start gravitating toward him. Phillips is hard to miss at 6-feet-4 and 270 pounds.
His infectious smile is even easier to spot.
“He’s got every single personality trait you want in a friend,” Ames basketball standout and future Iowa State Cyclone Tamin Lipsey said. “He’ll be there if you really need him and, if you need a laugh, he’ll make you laugh. We grew up together and in our hearts we’ll be brothers forever.”
Erica Lynn Douglas took over as the head track coach for both the boys and girls this season. Lynn Douglas, a former standout athlete at Ames, instantly saw why everyone gravitates toward Phillips whenever he's out and about at Ames High events.
"Corey is just a likeable guy," Lynn Douglas said. "He engages in conversation with everyone and that makes others feel seen.
"Being a talented multi-sport athlete has given him a platform to know and lead a lot of peers and young kids. He seems to take pride in that."
That's why so many people in and around Ames will be pulling for him to win a state championship in the Class 4A boys discus at the Drake Relays and state co-ed meets over the next few weeks.
"He was able to have a good football season then come out for basketball and have a great season," Lipsey said. "We did what we wanted to do in basketball and now he has one more goal. He deserves everything that comes to him.”
What Ames ended up doing in boys basketball was win the 4A state championship with one of the most dominant runs in state tournament history. Phillips started at forward and he now ranks second at Ames for the most games played as well as fifth all-time in rebounding and 12th in scoring.
Phillips also had a tremendous run as a tight end and receiver in football. He caught 107 passes for 1,222 yards and 13 touchdowns during his career. His talents earned him a scholarship in both sports at the NAIA's Grand View University.
Now he wants to cap his run at Ames with strong showings at Drake at state.
“State is the ultimate goal for every sport,” Phillips said. “That’s the ultimate goal for me right now, just getting there and try to win it.”
Phillips has come a long way since the start of his junior season.
"He went from throwing 130 to 171 feet and third place at state in four weeks," Phillips' throwing coach, Stephen Smalley, said. "You don’t see a 41-foot increase in that short of time very often."
Gabe Greenlee was a senior discus thrower for Ames last season. He placed right behind Phillips at state in 2021 with a fourth-place throw of 168-6. Greenlee was impressed by how strong his younger teammate came on over the second half of the season. But he wasn't surprised.
"He just has a great build for throwing the discus," Greenlee said. "His lower half has a ton of power and he has super long and strong arms. When you're gifted with that build and you can create speed like does through the ring, you can throw the disc a long way."
Phillips said his rise all came down to form and technique. With all he does for his other sports, it's not easy for him to get everything down right away during track season.
“I don’t have nine months to work on my technique and my form,” Phillips said. “Every year, I hit the reset button. But we always talk about how it’s not how well you do in April, it’s how well you do in May. When the qualifying meet comes and state comes, I know I’ll be ready.”
But it doesn't take long for him to catch up.
"He doesn’t cut corners. He’s the first to arrive and the last to leave," Smalley said. "It would be easy for a guy like him, who is successful in football and basketball, to cut corners and not do things the right way. He could easily get done with his workout and leave before talking to his teammates or carrying about with the freshmen or sophomores.
"But Corey is the opposite. He pushes himself each and every day, works hard and does things right."
Phillips has learned to be patient with his development. As much as he's been working on being more consistent with his throws, he knows not to get flustered with the bad ones like he did in the past.
“The big throw is not going to happen every time,” Phillips said. “You’ve just got to have that mindset where you know that big throw is coming.”
Phillips currently ranks sixth overall in the state. His best throw thus far in 2022 has been 174-8, which he threw at the Hi Covey Relays in Ames last week.
Phillips still has a lot of improving to do if he hopes to catch current 4A and overall state leader Walker Wahlen of Indianola, who has thrown 202-10. The Drake Relays, held April 27-30, at Drake Stadium will provide his first big test on the big stage.
He's not feeling any pressure.
“I’m just going to go out there and throw,” Phillips said. “Whatever I get, I get.”
No matter how he finishes up his final sport as a Little Cyclone, Phillips knows he will have given his all to Ames High.
"He has an individual goal and he’s not quitting on himself or feeling satisfied just because he’s accomplished goals from his other sports," Lynn Douglas said. "Younger kids can see that success carries over and that is vital not just for track but all other programs at Ames High."
His coaches, teammates, peers and fans can't thank him enough for it.
"He embodies the Ames High motto of 'A Championship Tradition,'" Lynn Douglas said.