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Interval Session #27 -Mike Alleman

January 24, 2008

Scotch Plains-Fanwood senior Mike Alleman put up some impressive numbers during his junior throwing campaign.  He came excruciatingly close to 60-feet with an indoor best of 59-11.50 at the 2007 Eastern States Championship, then placed 4th at the National Scholastic Indoor Championship at the conclusion of the undercover season.  Mike's outdoor laurels included a win at the 2007 Penn Relays and the 2007 NJ State Meet of Champions, before a ninth-place showing at the Nike Outdoor Nationals.

His senior year, thus far, has been a mix of elation and disappointment.  He's twice gone over 61-feet, with a best of 61-09.25 at the Pietrewicz Polar Bear Invitational.  But a December arson fire at his high school's track meant his coaches had to order a large shipment of new equipment, including new indoor shots.  When Mike heaved a 65-6 with one of those new shots at the Jersey City Development Meet on Friday January 18th, it seemed like a massive breakthrough.  What happened next says as much about Mike's character, and that of his coaches, as anything he'll do inside the throwing circle this year.

DyeStat assistant editor Dave Devine steps into the ring with a young man as honest as he is talented.

1) First of all, congrats on how the season has gone so far. I know its been a bit of a roller coaster the last few days; DyeStat, like a number of other HS sports websites, initially reported your 65-6 toss at a Jersey City Development Meet last Friday night, only to have to retract that once you and your coaches came forward with the information that the shot was two pounds lighter than regulation. For those unfamiliar with the story, can you take us through how it unfolded?

After a fire in December damaged most of our outdoor equipment, the coaches ordered a lot of new equipment, including some new indoor shots. When we removed the shots from the boxes that marked them as 12 pound shots, we never bothered to weigh them to verify their weight. At the meet last Friday, not only did I break our County record, but everyone else on the team far exceeded their PR. Because the shots weren't weighed at the meet, we later became concerned there may be a problem, so upon our return to the school we decided to check the weights. After finding out the shots were light, we immediately contacted the reporter who posted the story about the record-breaking throw. My father and I went through the various track websites that reported the record-breaking throw, including Dyestat, to contact the appropriate people to get the story corrected.

2) How did it feel to have a 65-footer on the books, and then have it slip away? It sounds like you've been approaching that territory in practice, so maybe it wasn't completely unexpected?

It was really an emotional roller coaster for me. There was alot of excitement about my breaking the County record. I had no idea there was an issue until it was too late. I was a bothered about it at first, but in the end, I wanted to earn that throw the right way. I have plenty of time to get there, I'm just going to put this behind me and keep working.

3) I read that you routinely warm-up with a 16-pound shot, so it was hard to notice you were throwing a lighter shot when it came time to compete. For those who've never been a thrower, can you explain why you warm up with a heavier shot?

My regular practice routine includes working with the 16 lb shot. I just prefer to warm up before the meets with a 16 so that I am faster when I throw the twelve. I just feel that it gets my arm and shoulder more warmed up.

4) Despite losing the 65-footer, you're still out past 61 feet this season, with the rest of indoors and a full outdoor season to go. What are your goals for the short term and the long term this year?

As of now my next goal is 62. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I just want to take it a little at a time. Sometimes if you set a really high goal you try to force it and end up losing your technique. So I'm just hoping to keep building a little at a time.

5) Last year, Jimmie Pacifico kind of dominated the prep shot put scene, as the only 70-footer in the country. This year, the field is a little more wide open. Can you discuss where you see yourself nationally, and who you view as some of your primary competition?

It's still early in the season and there are a handful of 60 footers. I hope that towards the end of the season I am able to be competitive with the other top throwers. I am fortunate to have a 60-footer [new national freshman indoor record-holder Nick Vena] in state, and that level of competition helps me to push myself.

6) Do you consider yourself more of a power/strength thrower or a speed/technique thrower? What are your strong points, technique-wise? What things are your working to improve this season?

I like to consider myself as an all-around thrower. I have power, technique, and decent speed. I try to improve on everything just a little at a time. I do a lot of weight lifting, and a lot of short explosive sprints. The track team is very limited in gaining access to an indoor gym for throwing in the winter, so I don't always get a chance to throw on a regular basis. Instead, I do a lot of technique work without a shot. My biggest improvement this year is my speed accross the circle.

7) At my old high school, our field event guys were so good, they started demanding we call it, "The Field and Track Team." What's the balance like at Scotch Plains-Fanwood? How does the coaching situation work out?

Our team is very balanced. We have good distance, sprints, and throwing. We do not actually have a throwing coach in the winter, so all of the throwers help each other as much as we can. I try to work with the less experienced throwers to help them improve through the winter.

8) Michael Carter's high school shot put record is 81-03.50. What are your thoughts on a mark like that? Do you think we'll ever see a high schooler approach that distance again?

A mark like that just shows what can be done with hard work and raw ability. I would have thought that a mark like that seems untouchable, but now after personally seeing a freshman throw over 60ft, it does seem possible that we see another person throwing that far, but at the same time it's still too early to tell.

Photos by Amy S. Carow (above left) and Blair Alleman (above right)

Interval Sessions Indoors 08