For Woodgrove's TC Nelson, his introduction to the shotput was less than auspicious.
"I was playing football, but was less than enthusiastic. So, I got talked into coming out for the track team and throwing. I figured that I had absolutely nothing to lose."
But success would not come easy. At his first meet, Nelson, working on his remedial version of the slide, tossed the eight-kilogram ball "about 32 feet," hardly a Herculean feat.
"But it was fun, I guess," he recalled thinking at the time.
In the same season, he found that hard work equated to success and his shot distance improved to 35, 40, 45, and finally 48 feet, which was good enough to win the runner up spot at the 2020 Class 5 state indoor championships.
Although he couldn't compete last outdoor season because of COVID, he found the throwing training to be therapeutic.
"It was the only thing I had to do during (the pandemic). I think it helped to keep me focused because I was really bored. My best time had been 48 feet, but at my first meet back after COVID, I threw 53 (feet), using the glide approach. As he added a spin move to his launch repertoire, that expanded seven more feet, and a 57-foot throw was good enough to win his first state championship, at the state indoor meet in March. Just before states, he cracked the 60-foot barrier.
But Nelson was far from finished. This season he stretched his standard to over 65 feet, and the question was raised concerning his ability to break the overall state record could be accomplished.
While Dan Kreuger's mark of over 68-5.5 feet will remain intact, it was accomplished in a non-State championship, so Nelson's toss of 66-7.5 on Friday will become the new Class 5 state record.
Actually, it is the longest throw in 43 years, and would have won EVERY Virginia high school state competition in history.
And there's more.
Nelson's winning effort, which came on his sixth and final throw, completely cleared the shotput sector, and landed in the grass, almost three feet past the board which marks the back edge of the regulation area.
Nelson is far from finished with his throwing career. He will attend Tiffin University in Ohio this fall. Tiffin is a small Division 2 school but is known for its stable of throwers, including Washington-Liberty graduate Benedict Draghi, himself a former Virginia state champion. As Nelson noted after the event, three Tiffin throwers will compete at the Olympic trials tonight, making up 12.5 percent of the 24 throwers in the meet.
Indeed, juniors Nik Curtiss, Ralph Casper, and alumnus Coy Blair competed in the Shot Put at the Olympic Trials I Eugene, Oregon last night, an event which was highlighted by Ryan Crouser's world record throw of 76 feet, nine inches.
"Four of the top twelve throwers in Virginia history went to Tiffin," added Nelson in a parting thought, forgetting to note that he is now part of that elite club.