Joe Manson’s 11th place finish in the shot put at the New Balance Indoor Track Nationals this past winter opened the eyes of a lot of colleges.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Danvers High senior carefully weighed all of his options before accepting a substantial track scholarship to Division 1 Virginia Commonwealth University.
After making his official visit to the Richmond-based school two weeks ago, the paperwork arrived at his home on Friday afternoon and Manson signed right away.
“I made up my mind after talking to the coaches when I visited,” said Manson, who had also considered UMass Lowell. “I liked everything about the school. I stayed with two sophomore throwers who were really nice. It’s good to know I’ll have competition from my teammates, because that will push me to try harder.
“They really emphasize throwing at VCU. I talked to one of them whose best with the 12-pound weight had been 48 feet in high school, and now with the 16-pound weight he’s up to 56 feet. That’s one of the reasons why I was looking for the D-1 level because they all work so hard to improve.”
Technique, said Manson, is what it’s all about in any throwing event, since strength can only carry you so far (especially with the spin of doing the shot). Because getting that technique down is critical, he’s looking forward to working with his VCU coaches to improve both that technique and distance of his throws.
A football standout and captain at Danvers High as well, Manson broke his own outdoor shot put record for the Falcons yesterday with a toss of 56 feet 6 inches in a meet against Winthrop. In doing so, he met the national qualifying mark for the spring of 55 feet or better.
“Joe will do well in college,” said Danvers spring track coach (and football coach) Sean Rogers. “He’s very driven when it comes to track. He sets high expectations for himself and will outwork his competition in order to achieve his goals. And when he accomplishes something he enjoys it for a moment, then sets a new goal.”