Shadow Ridge senior thrower Joshua Scott still had goals he wanted to achieve in his final track season, including a second Division I state discus title.
But on the balance, he said he is blessed to have won a state title and grateful for the chance to throw in two meets this spring.
In the second of those meets, the Mountain Ridge Invite March 6, Scott smashed his personal best with a toss of 197 feet 2 inches. In this abbreviated track season, it was the third best discus mark in the United States and, as Shadow Ridge throws coach Dave Smith pointed out, reached another key mark.
“One of his biggest goals was to out-throw me,” Smith said.
Smith earned an Indiana state title in the 1980s with a throw of 194.
Maybe the only letdown for Scott was competition for the top spot in Arizona, where Mesa Desert Ridge senior Zach Landa threw 195-7 early this season, and nationally. Senior Maurice Westmoreland of Klein Forest High in Houston set the national standard at 204-6 on March 5.
“With everything going on, I kind of lost that chance to be No. 1,” Scott said.
Soon after the spread of COVID-19 caused the closure of schools and the end of the remainder of the spring sports season on March 30, Scott resumed individual workouts with Smith.
His mentor though Scott could top the national leader board.
“There was a two- to three-week window where he was definitely down,” Smith said. “It was definitely heartbreaking in that spot, because he had thrown a lot farther in practice.”
As April drag on, however, athlete and mentor refocused by concentrating on the future. Scott has near-daily sessions with Smith and college-sized throwing implements.
Scott said, even more than his state title, he is grateful for the chance to learn from Smith.
“He’s the reason I’ve been able to improve this much,” Scott said. “He’s more of a mentor than a coach. I got really lucky — he did all of this for free. It’s been a huge blessing for my family.”
For his part, Smith said Scott always worked hard and showed up prepared for workouts. But he noticed a change last summer.
Before Scott’s state title victory with a throw of 182-9, plus his toss of 186-6 at the district meet in April 2019, he talked mostly about joining the military after graduation.
After ending last year with a bang, college started coming into focus.
“He figured out this is something I could go to college for,” Smith said. “He always trained hard for me, but there became more of a purpose to it.”
Scott also placed second in the shot put last year. Unlike many of his peers, Scott did not play football in high school.
Last season’s stretch run brought recruiters from several big schools out to watch Scott as he beat his personal best by nearly 11 feet.
Smith said he heard from several college coaches in the past year, including some name-brand universities.
“That’s a nice thing, going from not being a major athlete to having recruiters come to me,” Scott said.
Through the process, he said he realized what he wanted from college and then decided to look for universities based on their forestry and environmental sciences programs.
“I’ve grown up hunting and fishing my whole life and I wanted to go into a field where I can help preserve that,” Scott said.
And, as he put it, throwing is an individual sport and he will not be relying on 10 other players like on a football field.
Large schools inquired, but during the recruiting process Scott realized many of the schools he would study forestry at are in the Midwest or northern U.S.
“It’s interesting because most athletes want to go to warm weather and big schools,” Smith said.
Scott said he is close to making a decision though it is not official yet. His final three schools are Kent State in Ohio, LSU and NAU.
One he decides, Scott heads off to college believing he is ready for the next step.
“My time at Shadow Ridge was a learning experience. I learned how to be able to use sports to further my goals and share my faith through those experiences,” Scott said.