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10th Nike Indoor Nationals

March 15-16, 2008 at Prince George's County Sportsplex, Landover MD

DyeStat on-site

Pounds Adds Weight to NIN Shot Field

By Pete Cava, National Scholastic Sports Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS – Brandon Pounds started out as a three-sport athlete at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, playing football and basketball and competing in track and field.

“In football, I played middle linebacker and fullback,” said the 6-foot, 230-pound senior. “In basketball I was the power forward. I was pretty strong.

“Not stronger than everyone,” he added with a self-effacing laugh, “but I was – I don’t know how to say it – a little bit more powerful than some of the other guys.”

These days, Pounds concentrates on throwing events in track. And that physical strength he’s so modest about? It helped him put the shot 64-feet, 9.5 inches at the Indiana Invitational in Bloomington on February 10.

Brandon’s breakthrough mark led the year’s indoor prep list until New Jersey freshman Nicholas Vena came up with a 66-0.75 heave thirteen days later. “He can tell you all about elite throwers in the country, all the best high school throwers,” said Lawrence North coach Kenneth Browner, himself a former throws specialist. “He should look at himself as being the same caliber as those kids.”

He should indeed, since Pounds heads to the Nike Indoor Nationals in Landover, Maryland, March 15-16, as one of the hottest entries in the shot.

Brandon’s path to Landover began at Fall Creek Valley Middle School in Indianapolis. “I started [competing in track] my sixth-grade year,” he said. “The coach wanted me to try something new. I tried it and I liked it, and just wound up going from there.”

Things hit a snag last year. “What people don’t realize is that Brandon was hurt all season,” explained Coach Browner. “He had a ganglion cyst in his throwing wrist.”

Pounds and his parents, Farley and Christine, decided on surgery – but not until track season was over. For the rest of the 2007 campaign, he cut back his time in the ring. “I was limited on how much throwing I could do,” said Pounds. “The more I put the shot or lifted weights, the more the cyst would bother me. Training kind of got tough.”

Despite the handicap, he made it to last year’s Indiana high school meet in Bloomington and finished second in the shot. “It was kind of awkward competing in front of so many people,” Pounds admitted. “I fouled my first two throws. I had to keep trusting in myself that I’d be able to do it. I wound up making the final on my last throw.”
He also qualified for the U.S. Junior Championships in Indianapolis, where he finished tenth. Pounds and fifth-placer Wes Wright (Villa Rica, Ga.) were the only high school juniors among the top ten finishers.

The junior nationals took place the same time as the U.S. championship meet, and Pounds took advantage. “I got to meet some of the throwers,” he said. “I really enjoyed that. I had my picture taken with Christian Cantwell. I had a chance to talk to Reese Hoffa and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and I got to say hello to Michael Johnson.”

Pounds finished the 2007 outdoor campaign with personal bests of 61-07.50 for the shot and 171-11 in the discus. Colleges showed interest, including Indiana, Kansas, Kent State, Louisville and Arkansas State.

He decided on Indiana State, a few hours west of his Indianapolis home. “It was the bond I felt when I went there on my visit,” said Brandon. “Normally, I’m a shy guy until I get to know you. I was very comfortable. I got along well with the coaches and everyone on the campus.”

John McNichols, Indiana State’s veteran coach, said he’s thrilled to have Pounds join the Sycamores. “He’ll have an immediate impact in our conference, and nationally,” he said.

Indiana State throws coach Adam Judge was even more effusive. “He’s a very fast, very explosive kid,” said Judge. “When he gets to the front of the ring, he comes out throwing hard. Ken Browner has done a good job with him. If Brandon seems like he’s having a bad meet, his coach will give him a correction and he’ll make it right away. That’s something a lot of kids don’t have.”

Those who do have special qualities figure to be at the Nike Indoor Nationals, and Pounds is anticipating more than just the challenge. “I’m really looking forward to meeting those guys and talking to them,” he said. ”I’ve been reading about Dan Kwiatkowski [a 63-0 putter from Erie, Pa.] and the very good freshman thrower from New Jersey. There’s a good thrower named Geoffrey Tabor [from Ardmore, Okla.]. He’s put some really big throws together, especially for a junior.”

Analyzing and studying shot put technique, as well as watching video, is practically a daily ritual for Pounds. “My high school coach really goes for good form,” he said. “It’s the good technique that brings the good throws.”

Pounds realizes the shot put isn’t one of the events that take center stage, like the sprints, the hurdles or the mile. “When I got to high school, I realized God had given me a talent for throwing,” he said. “It’s not the main event in track and field, but it became something I love to do. It’s a passion.”

Loose spikes: Brandon Lee Pounds was born in Indianapolis on September 24, 1989 . . . He has one brother, Farley Jr., age 24 . . . Brandon’s favorite football team is the New England Patriots – a risky pick in Indianapolis, since the Colts and Patriots are big rivals . . . Growing up, his favorite basketball player was Michael Jordan . . . He was also a big fan of Michael Johnson back then, but now his favorite track and field athlete is fellow shot putter Reese Hoffa . . . Joining Pounds at Indiana State next year will be Lawrence North teammate Tra Wilson, one of the top prep sprint/long jump performers in Indiana . . . Pounds and Wilson are friends . . . This is Brandon’s first time at the Nike Indoor Nationals.

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