The Salem News
---- — The Bishop Fenwick track program has been a pioneer in the weight throw and is one of a handful of teams in the state very seriously training for this event that is popular in college but not part of league meets at the high school level.
However, Crusader throwers spend a lot of time on mastering it, and have been very successful in big meets including nationals. St. John’s Prep also pays a lot of attention to the event, and it pays off in dividends when athletes compete at the college level because they have already learned the basics.
“There are only a couple of programs in the state that do it,” said Fenwick track coach Jay Smith. “The Prep, Burlington, and O’Bryant are the only ones I know of. There are a couple of kids here and there from other schools. Xaverian and Malden Catholic have purchased equipment for the weight throw so the number is slowly growing. I don’t foresee the MIAA approving it for meets any time soon though.
“It’s definitely a motivating factor for any kid wanting to continue to throw in college. Lexi Culkeen (former Fenwick track star) was perfectly suited for the hammer and weight. She went on to have a great career at Holy Cross, and shortly after she left Fenwick we started devoting more time to it. We’ve been to nationals every year for the past four, and the event continues to grow in popularity.”
Smith said the weight throw is an exhibition event in Fenwick’s dual meets, but the Tri County League offers support, a circle, and paid officials to measure results. Those marks are used to qualify for other events. Last weekend the Crusaders enjoyed great success at the Boston Holiday Challenge at the Reggie Lewis Center.
Senior captain Maggie Lepley of Lynn took second in the 20-point weight throw (35-5) while Pat Corcoran recorded a personal best 56-6 in the 25-pound throw to also place second, and Andrew Carlin was 10th. For Corcoran, who is from Beverly, it was a terrific break through that was three feet farther than his previous best.
“We’re trying to build a culture of throwing,” said Smith. “Most of the events we go to are in Rhode Island where the weight throw is big at Weightarama which is at Brown University, and the New England Weight Throw Championships. Corcoran throws the 25, 35, and 50 pound weights for distance.
“It’s great because you can continue to do this at any age. There’s a weight pentathlon for men that goes up to 300 pound weights, and you see people in their 30’s and 40’s doing it along side people right out of college.”
Smith said the weight throw is not only something college coaches love to see young athletes compete in, but offers challenges for high school kids trying to master the technique.
“The shot that girls throw is 8.8 pounds while the weight throw is 20,” said Smith. “For the boys instead of 12 pounds it’s 25 so they can work on strength, explosive power, and develop coordination. Some people call the weight throw the indoor hammer, but it’s really not the same.
“A beginner can do a standing throw; then you start to add the turns. Some of the best in this event do three or four turns. Corcoran is comfortable at two turns now, but able to do three. At the Holiday Challenge Lepley was a couple of inches off her best, but it was tops for her in competition at a sanctioned meet. She’s just starting to get the hang of it, and should go over 40 feet this year. Corcoran could wind up with the school record.”
Last year senior Shaun Farrell of Peabody threw 58-2 and won the Boston Holiday Challenge before recorded a sixth place finish at nationals. Smith expects Corcoran, a six-foot, 275 pound former soccer player, to hit the 60-foot mark. Corcoran started doing the weight throw as a junior, but didn’t really like it so dropped it for most of the season, but picked it up again in February. He qualified for nationals where he had a 10-foot personal best.
“Corcoran and Lepley are both throwers. He is big and strong so he can do any weight event,” said Smith. “Patrick is also one of the best students in the senior class. Maggie has good height at 5-9 and wants to go to Bates where her brother is. She can do the weight, hammer, shot, javelin, and discus. One of the Stonehill College coaches officiates at our meets, and he would love to get her to commit, but she has her heart set on going north.
“Lepley is tireless, and the joke is the team is done when Maggie’s done. The other kids look up to her because her work ethic is so strong. Both Patrick and Maggie dedicated the fall to lifting and working on the weight throw so they hit the indoor season early and hard. We’ve had the Dartmouth Relays (Jan. 11-12) circled on our calendar since September, and we’re hoping to have some big results there.”
The honors continue to roll in for some of the top high school football players on the North Shore. @text1_r:Alex Moore of St. John’s Prep, the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year, Brendan Flaherty of Beverly, and Dylan Mann of Masconomet were all selected to the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team as defensive backs. Moore and Flaherty led their respective teams to Super Bowl championships while Mann was instrumental in the Chieftains making the playoffs.
Jeremy Hatfield of Peabody was one of 12 seniors awarded the G. J. Wood Soccer Bowl for outstanding contributions to the Pomfret School soccer team’s successful 12-2-1 season. The honor is given to recognize intensity, pride, sportsmanship, and skill on and off the field that Wood instilled in his 11 years as coach at Pomfret.
The Connecticut school was ranked No. 1 in the New England Prep School tournament and went to the semifinals before losing to Roxbury Latin. Hatfield is also a midfielder for the lacrosse team that was 10-4 last season and has gone 21-7 the past two years.
Jean DePlacido is a longtime correspondent for The Salem News. You can contact her at JMDeplacido@aol.com