It was sometime late in the summer that Seaford’s Andrew Saulpaugh decided to get serious about weight throw. It was something he had a knack for, something he knew could take him far in the vast track and field cornucopia of strengths. It is a sport filled with niches, and Saulpaugh finally had found his.
“I really became passionate about weight throw when I realized that I could go far and make it to states and nationals,” Saulpaugh said.
So, with those larger goals in mind, the senior found himself a private coach, fine-tuned his technique and set himself on a course toward weight throw supremacy. Six months later, he could out-throw an entire county.
Saulpaugh won the Nassau Class B weight throw championship Monday night at St. Anthony’s High School. His 57 foot, 6 1⁄2 inch toss was the top throw in the county, regardless of class, and qualified him for the state championships, scheduled for March 4 at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.
Massapequa’s Joe Ryan won the Class A county title, throwing 55 feet, 9 inches and was second overall. Syosset’s John Antonelli was third overall (55-2 1⁄2 ). Ryan and Antonelli will join Saulpaugh at the state championships.
“I never thought this would actually happen,” Saulpaugh said. “Last year, I threw 18 feet less than I threw today.”
Competitors throw a 25-pound circular weight that sits in a fabric casing, holding it in place. They begin their motion with their backs toward the throwing surface, holding the weight by a metal handle and dangling it between their outstretched legs. They then spin around, moving slightly forward in the circle before releasing it.
Punctuated with a mix of technique and hope, and often enunciated with a grunt, the weight lands. If it has remained inbounds, it is measured by officials.
Thanks to increased coaching, Saulpaugh said his speed within the circle greatly increased, allowing him to land farther throws and a championship.
Ryan needed to make a mid-competition technique change to adjust to some early jitters that landed his opening throws out of bounds.
“When my first turn is too quick, it puts me out of bounds,” Ryan said. “So, I slowed it all down and then accelerated through my second turn.”
Ryan said that watching the first few competitors, specifically Saulpaugh, land distant throws caused some of his early jitters. He needed to land a solid final throw in the first round to qualify for the finals.
“It’s all mental,” Ryan said. “You’re thinking about how everyone else did, and it’s your final throw to get more.”
Ryan hit his farthest mark on the last throw of the finals, nerves all gone and a Class A county championship in his possession.