Central Dauphin senior Ryan Whiting didn't come out
of nowhere. It's where he's going this year that has everyone turning
from the track to watch, and to watch out for, the shot put.
As a junior, Whiting had Shot Put PRs of 63-00.50 indoor at the PTFCA
state championships, and a 65-footer at the District 3 Championships
in May. But the improvement he has made this year has turned a lot of
heads. In fact, at the PTFCA Track Carnival, the officials working the
shot made sure that every head was turned watching him throw. For their
own safety. The FAT timing system was within 68 feet, so a slightly
errant throw could have scattered some people and equipment.
did get over 68 feet, to 68-01.50 to be exact. The throw was dead center
from the ring. And it was the 2nd throw over 68' this season. His best,
a 68-09.50 on January 8th at Kutztown, placed him at 11th on the all-time
indoor list. There are only three preps ahead of him. It's the one at
the top of the chart - Brent Noon of Fallbrook, California - that he's
chasing. Noon has seven throws in the top ten, the best an astounding
74-11, accomplished in 1990. But Whiting doesn't seem intimidated by
the mark, just focused on his technique and each opportunity. In fact,
he thinks he is due for another jump in distance.
The big difference this year, he says, is the additional coaching from
Glenn Thompson of Long and Strong. "He picks out the smallest thing
wrong with me and helps me fix it."
But the first thing he fixed with Ryan when the two first teamed up
following the adidas Outdoor Championships last June, was a complete
rebuilding of his start. A spinner, Whiting says he wasn't getting the
most from his legs, an important part of the physics of throwing. "Last
year when I started in the back, I started up and really tall with straight
legs. This year, I'm down in almost a parallel (to the ground) squat,
so that helps a lot with the legs." Whiting also changed his lifting
cycle and has continued to get faster and more powerful.
While not immediately apparent, the improvements were soon seen in the
results when he threw 64 with the new technique at a meet in September.
For those looking for other changes, you'll notice that this year his
trajectory isn't a line drive like it was in early 2004. Whiting knew
he was going to have a big indoor season when he hit 66 at his first
meet at Dickinson College in December. He threw three times at Kutztown,
the first of which was the big one. And he's pleased with those throws
because he says the ring is more slick at Kutztown than other facilities,
such as Lehigh and the one at Penn State University.
What's more, he gained some confidence from his recent PTFCA Carnival
68-01.50, because it was done after an hour-an-a-half break between
prelims and finals, and thrown on pure adrenaline. "In practice,
that would have been a 65. When I finally get one like I do in practice
all the time, people are going to notice."
Whiting is also looking forward to outdoor, and adding the Discus. His
PR of 194-04.75 came the same day as his outdoor Shot Put PR last spring.
With no marks under 65-04 in the Shot Put this season, he is taking
aim at "over 220" with the disc. While Whiting knows he has
taken a jump from the low 60's to the upper 60's, he says the biggest
difference lies ahead - "between 69-11 and 70... but I think once
I hit it, I'll keep hitting it."
His 65-04 on January 22nd is his shortest of the five throws this season.
Remarkably, that throw is a full foot ahead of the next closest competitor.
So Whiting is aiming up the all-time list. "I'm just competing
against the numbers right now." As for Noon's 74-11 - "I want
to get close if not hit him"
Then it's off to Arizona State next fall. After all the big meets, of
course, including Arcadia, Penn Relays, and Nike Outdoor Champs. But
first, keep your head turned toward the throws in PA. It could be one
for the records.