The 13th of July was a big day in the life of Joe Manson.
Not only was it his 18th birthday, but he was able to celebrate it in style after winning both the shot put and the discus in the Scholastic Division of the Bay State Games.
The former Danvers High star, who is headed to Virginia Commonwealth University on a track scholarship at the end of August, equaled his personal best in the discus with a throw of 160 feet 4 inches (not far from the all-time meet record of 161.9), winning the event for the second straight year. He also won gold in the shot put with a toss of 50 feet 6 inches.
“It was my last time throwing with high school weights and I went there with an open mind,” said Manson, who won the Emerging Elite shot put event at the New Balance Nationals this spring and holds records in both events at Danvers High. “I wanted to have fun, (so) I’m very happy to get gold in both even though it wasn’t my best day in the shot.”
The Salem News’ Spring Track Athlete of the Year, Manson had reached the finals at Regis College by qualifying at the regional event, held at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody. He was second in the shot put at Bay States last summer.
Manson received two gold medals and a Bay State Games jacket.
“It was really hot, but I wasn’t really challenged as much as I expected because Evan Dombrowski from St. John’s Prep and another kid from Newton didn’t go. There was a junior from Belmont whose best discus was 166 feet, but he didn’t come close to that at finals,” said Manson. “I think second place in the discus was 130 feet and 46 feet in the shot.”