US Americans love their numbers and their high school sports. Track & Field is a sport of numbers. The pinnacle of our numbers is the personal best, followed closely by records. We love our world record holders, but we also list records for our juniors, youth, schools, Olympic… etc. While we all celebrate the special marks, what of the athlete–the setter of the record?
We assume setting the record is full of celebration and glory, new found confidence and performance. With high school senior Raven Saunders pushing the US high school girls shot put record to 17.28m (56′ 8½”) Throwholics asked some high school record setters how their big performance(s) played into their life.
girls shot put (4 kg)
girls discus (1 kg)
Anna Jelmini‘s 57,98m (190′ 3″) in 2009 broke Powell‘s fifteen year old record of 57,40m (188′ 4″).
First I would like to say being a high school record breaker is such an honor and to almost break another is also quite a great feeling. The day I broke the discus record was a day that I was 6″ off of breaking the shot put record, so you can image the thrill, joy, and adrenaline that had been coursing through my body. In the short term, I was ecstatic to have broken a long standing record by my idol, Suzy Powell. Shortly after breaking her record she had called me to congratulate me, which was so exciting for me, to be commended by someone you highly respect and look up to was so amazing! In the long term breaking that record gave me a confidence that drove me to great things and helped me develop into the person and thrower I am today. It also helped me to realize what it takes to be at the top, and what it takes to get back there.
girls javelin (600 g)
Avione Allgood set her record of 53,84m (176′ 8″) her junior year, 2011–breaking Rachel Yurkovich‘s 2005 mark by 7cm (3″).
I really couldn’t say how setting the record affected me because after the season ended I had surgery and the confidence boost I got from throwing the record automatically went down and diminished leading me to be very depressed. I mean, confidence and yes you can use it. After I have healed it still takes people reminding me how well I’m doing for my confidence to become recognizable, my father has always taught me to stay humble, so that’s what I try to do. My past is my past it may have helped me begin my future, but at the end of the day the actions and accomplishments that I achieve now, will be the determining factor as to whether I succeed or not.
girls hammer (4 kg)
Then junior Shelby Ashe turned heads when she added 4m (14′) to Maureen Griffin’s 1998 mark with her 65,32m (214′ 4″) in 2010.
When I broke the high school record the first time, it certainly changed my thinking. Breaking the record so early in my career was a confidence booster, but it became a mental obstacle my senior year in high school because I didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of breaking a record until I had such a hard time breaking it the following year. There would be times I was preoccupied with breaking my record instead just getting better and developing in my career. Those moments made it difficult to enjoy throwing. I’m thankful for my coaches Mike Judge and Ronda Broome who helped me keep everything in perspective. As I got older, it affected me less negatively. I still hold myself up to that standard, but it’s not burdensome. I enjoy being a role model for upcoming throwers and carrying myself accordingly. I try to make myself as available and approachable as possible for younger athletes. I don’t bring up my high school career too often. It’s just not a part of regular conversation. However, I’m pretty comfortable talking about it. I have several friends with no clue though, haha. Of course I’ve had my fair share of naysayers, but it comes with the territory. Not everyone has your best interest at heart, but that’s okay. I have a great support system and I have nothing to be ashamed about or hide, so naysayers don’t really bother me. No one within my personal circle has treated me differently, which I appreciate.
heptathlon (4 kg, 600 g)
Shana Woods, at the 2006 USATF Junior Championships she scored 5,533 points to break Kendra Reimer‘s mark of 5,493 points from 1998. Woods was also ran legs on the 4 x 400m and 4 x 200m relay high school records.
Well honestly, whenever I broke a record it was never really a goal of mine. I just wanted to do my best and compete, so if I broke a record along the way it was just the icing on the cake. Now that I look back on it, it makes me proud that I will always be in the record books, people won’t always remember numbers but they remember records; and that’s something I always cherish now, back then I didn’t really realize how much an impact it would have on me. People to this day still ask me about the records my teammates and I broke and it makes me smile. I always remember that time in my life.
boys shot put (5.44 kg/12 lb)
Brent Noon found a way to set a high school record in an event whose record is nearly unsurpassable. Noon went undercover to throw 23,21m ( 76′ 2″) in 1990 to set the indoor record. His 23,21m throw is still #3 on the all-time list, behind the Michael Carter and discus record holder Ryan Crouser.
I was always very mentally tough. I never allowed myself to be too satisfied with any level I reached, I just viewed it as a time to reset my goals and expectations. I always tried to compete with myself and let everything else fall where it may. As a record setter, always remember there is someone coming along right behind you that will take that record away, so keep pushing to improve. Enjoy the journey it will be the most exciting part of what you do, ever. It is hard to recapture the thrill of training hard and going after something or being the very best at something. There aren’t many areas in “real life” where you can quantify what “the best” is, so that makes the sport fun. Training was always the most enjoyable part of the sport for me. That is where the lessons are taught, when nobody is watching. The record didn’t change my thinking other than knowing that any improvement will be setting a new standard, but in general, I kept training and competing the same way I always had. Record setting only adds pressure if you let it and I didn’t. Once you reach a certain level, others expectations change. Everyone will always want to see you at your very best every time you compete which isn’t always possible. Having the mark certainly is satisfying on one level, but did not change my enjoyment. I really enjoyed the preparation the most. Training and mentally preparing was my favorite part, the competition was the icing on the cake. I think later on in your career I did reflect back more and at that point you have more respect for what you did earlier in your career. I don’t think many athletes dwell too much on their current success, we are all worried about what’s next.
People still bring it up quite a bit still and is always enjoyable to relive. Being married to an elite athlete makes it fun for me to think about often and keep it alive. We both enjoy sharing training stories and can both appreciate what each other did. With records come notoriety and attention so I did get treated differently in that many more people knew who I was and what I did, especially as I closed in on records and that was reported on by press, I had a lot of people cheering for me and the extra support is always very nice.
boys discus (1.6 kg/3.58 lb)
Niklas Arrhenius‘ 71,39m (234′ 3″), from the 2001 Arcadia Invitational, held the record for eights years.
Well, instantly you are the person everyone is trying to beat. Not just that year, but the years to follow. Just like I had Kamy Keshmiri and his record 68,63m (225′ 2″) set in 1987 to motivate me. I also think I had quite a bit of pressure on me to succeed in college. Had I not won nationals in college, I would’ve been disappointed. I was very relieved once I set the record. I had thrown farther than the record in practice and put the pressure on myself to do it in a meet. When you set a record, let setting the record motivate you to become better and better. Don’t stop at just that, keep striving to set new record/titles. Throwing the record helped me realize that you should never set limits on what you can do. I felt like Kamy’s record was thought of as this “untouchable” mark, not quite in Michael Carter’s territory, but still near impossible to beat. But after throwing 174’ my freshman year I set a goal to improve 20 ft every year and I ended up going; 174’, 193’, 213’ and 234’ my four years of HS. While the record did bring a little added pressure, but it mostly gave me confidence in my ability. It sure was fun to throw a discus 234’ and it was enjoyable to reach goals you’ve made. I still consider it one of the biggest athletic achievements I’ve done. It’s a fun club to be a member of. Now that I coach collegiately at BYU, every once in a while athletes come up and introduce themselves and tell me how they grew up watching it on YouTube. Obviously on those occasions I think about it, but not too much otherwise. Not sure if anyone treats me differently, it’s mostly just a cool fact about me.
Mason Finley broke Arrhenius‘ record April 25, 2009 with his 72,09m (236′ 6″)
After setting the record, I initially felt like I was going to dominate college and eventually international competitions. Then after my freshman and sophomore year I kept getting beat and my distance wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I think it was frustrating because I had done so well in high school, but I wasn’t adapting well in college competitions. By my junior year [3rd year of college] I felt overwhelmed by a lot of pressure. I don’t know if this pressure came from others, but I certainly was putting a lot on myself. I definitely wasn’t enjoying the sport anymore and something had to change or I would have quit. When I got to Wyoming [transferred schools] I felt a lot of pressure fall off because it was a fresh start and I felt like I was able to put my high school success and college struggles behind me. College was definitely a humbling experience and made me hungry again. The best advice I can give to other high school record setters is to leave it in the past, and know that it does not define you when you move on to the next level. Everyone gets a clean slate.
Ryan Crouser overcame injuries to throw 72,39m (237′ 6″) in 2011.
Track and field is a very special sport because you can directly measure your performance with a tape measure or stopwatch. That is what appealed to me. Knowing that on a day I threw a PR I was the better than I had ever been before. That feeling is something that anybody can enjoy because you are competing against yourself. That is the feeling that I chased, not the records. I made personal goals at the beginning of each season and then also for each meet and weight room and all aspects of my training. I think that it is this measure of self-growth that has lead me to be successful.
Gregg Hart set the 2 kg record in 1990 with a 61,36m (201′ 4″).
It is pretty funny, but I had no idea what was going on the first time I broke the National HS 2kg record. I went to try out for the Junior Olympic team at Ohio State and I brought my high school discs. When they didn’t weigh in I thought that was a bunch of crap because they were fine a week prior at the Indiana State Championship meet. Anyway, they said I’d have to throw their discus as mine were confiscated.
So, I go out and start warming up and the disc felt a little heavy, but I didn’t think anything about it. I remember the distance of my first throw and thought it was terrible an I didn’t know what was going on. So I got in the ring for my second throw and thought I didn’t come here to lose. On my second throw ever with a 2kg discus is when I broke Charles Moyes’ national record [54,96m/ 180' 4" in 1987] without even knowing it. I threw 181′ [55,16m] and some change. Everyone started going crazy and I had no idea why. I didn’t know I broke a record until they took me back for a urine test.
That changed my life in that I was recognized nationally and I became somewhat a local celebrity. It was great in the fact that it gave me direction and something to focus on which was to break it again which I did in 1990 when I threw 201′ and some change.
Mentally, I was more confident in knowing that if I set my mind to anything and if I honestly give 100% I can achieve anything.
The advice I would give someone who breaks a record is to not stop there. You must keep striving to be better and to throw farther. Stay focused and surround yourself with great teammates, excellent coaches and maintain a proper diet. Back in the day we ate whatever whenever and didn’t utilize hardly any supplements like protein. It was a horrible diet and we didn’t take care of our nutrition at all. It is so important to do that.
Breaking records was a very common thing for me back then and it has had an impact on my thinking. Records are meant to be broken and all mine will be broken someday too. You have to think/know that you can do anything no matter what you do in life. You pick something out and you attack it. If you give it your best shot and don’t reach your goal/record then so be it. Only you know how much effort you gave. You will be the one who knows and it will stay with you forever. Good or bad. Nobody can take away what you achieved athletically. You can always be assured that at one time, I was the best.
I believe I added a ton of pressure to me. I threw the discus the best way I know how in HS. I didn’t have a coach, I just went out and threw and I loved it. When I got to college my technique was changed and my confidence went to hell. I was successful, but everything I knew was different.
I still like watching the sport when it’s on, but I am very far removed. Most has to do with me moving out of Indiana and to Nebraska where nobody knows me. I remember when I first moved here and I was out throwing at a local HS. I was throwing pretty far and nobody asked me one question or said a thing to me. I don’t have a reason to be involved in the sport. Well, I will be 44 in August and I have thrown the disc in the back yard a few times. Not bad I might add. You never know. Lol
Yes, the record does come up every now and then. Those achievements are on my résumé so I do get questions. Their impressed and would have never thought.
Yes, I think about it. I think about more of the what ifs than anything else. But, I do have great memories and have been a lot of places. Probably one of the things I think about most was a missed opportunity to be in the movie Without Limits. After a meet I heard the director was looking for me and didn’t know how to reach me. Got on a plane that night and that was it. That would if been awesome!!!!
People do treat me differently once they know what I have done. I am pretty humble about it and always have been. It’s not like they’re asking for autographs, but more on the respect side of things and acknowledging athletic ability and the mental drive and determination. Throwing the discus was very easy for me. I picked it up and it was just there. Honestly, I didn’t work at it as hard as I should have, especially in college.
Regrets? No. I have a beautiful wife and three beautiful healthy kids. Maybe one day they’ll want to be a thrower like dad and I just might have to break out the shoes and discus’ and show them. But, not before they pick someone’s record to break.
boys javelin (800 g)
boys hammer (5.44 kg/12 lb)
Conor McCullough pushed the 12 lb. ball out to 79,24m (260′ 0″) in 2008 one year after Walter Henning‘s record of 78,00m (255′ 11″). He also set the junior record (6kg/13.23lb ball) with 75,89m (248′ 11″)and still holds the 7.26kg (16lb) record with his 66,92m (219′ 7″)
After setting the record I was delighted. It was a great feeling reaching and surpassing that goal. So after I reached that goal; it was on to the next, world juniors. As far as advice I would say keep up the great work! Keep pushing yourself as hard as you did to break the record. Try to maintain a good balance of life inside and outside the sport; keep a sustainable long term approach, long term planning and goal setting bears the most fruit. Setting the record surely added to the enjoyment, it assured my progress and affirmed the result of my hard work. It does come-up, as a history of ones career it is a good “landmark”. However, my experiences in Moncton and Bydgoszcz are asked about much more.
Rudy Winkler dropped a 79,37m (260′ 5″) in 2013 to bump the record up 12cm (5″). He also bumped the junior record up by 2cm (1″) with a 75,91m (249′ 0″).
I’m honored to contribute. Breaking the high school national record did not really change all that much regarding my training and attitude towards the sport. If anything, I was a little disappointed with the distance I threw. I had two goals going into my senior year… I wanted to break the hs national record, and I wanted to be the first hs athlete in America over 80m…. I threw 79.81, so I accomplished my first goal, but didn’t quiet get my second, and close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Overall breaking the record just pushed me harder and made me want to work more and more to get over 80m. I didn’t end up breaking 80m…. So I felt a little empty knowing I hadn’t accomplished all of my season goals.
Well, I ended up getting injured this past season…. And I just set the record last summer… So I haven’t really had a chance to have it affect me on a long term scale. One thing I can say is that the record made me feel sort of high minded when I went to college…. But the transition between high school and college was really tough, both mentally and physically. So in a way I felt like “the man” going to college, but once I was there I was just like everyone else. So the record, in a sense, sort of gave me some false hope about what college would be like.
I’m just really getting back into throwing now after my injury, so can’t tell you how having an American record affects me on the long run. Though I doubt my record will stay long after seeing a lot of the up and coming talent in America’s youth hammer scene.
Curtis Beach set three records:
• international 7,466 – 16 lb shot put, 2 kg discus, 800 g javelin
• junior 7,599 – 6 kg shot put, 1,75 kg discus, 800 g javelin
• high school 7,909 – 12 lb shot put, 1,6 kg discus, 800 g javelin
I think setting a record, in any capacity, might initially change your personal performance standards and make you feel a little bit entitled to continue to perform at a record-breaking level. Once you set a big record in high school (like a national record), it’s easy to jump to thinking about making a World or Olympic team and setting records on that stage. While it’s not bad to strive for goals like that, expecting that it’s supposed to happen, which can happen after huge performances early on, can put tons of pressure on you and make the pursuit a lot less fun. I believe a great way to approach breaking a record is holding on to the same mindset you had prior to getting it—which would be chasing something big, instead of expecting something big. Another good way to think would be forgetting that it’s a record at all or what anyone else had done in the past, just keep going for personal records no matter what you accomplish.
I think I’ve just learned that you shouldn’t change anything following a record breaking performance… you should be the same person before and after you break a record if it happens. I didn’t always have that mindset—my first couple seasons at Duke [University] were kind of difficult because I expected too much of myself when I had to transition to many things in college. I started performing well and enjoying it a lot more when I cared less about records and more about just getting the most of my abilities.
It’s been a fun journey. Being a record setter I feel like I’ve been able to get more connections a little easier, especially with business people who are track fans but for the most part it’s all pretty much the same as anyone haha
We’d love to hear from the Carters, Crousers, Vaughn… etc. Here’s hoping we can add their thoughts later.