Tale of the Tape: The story of the man who brought a steel tape to Jordan Geist's record throw


Jordan Geist autographed the steel tape that measured his record-setting throw last Saturday at Edinboro (Photos by Phil Grove)

Admittedly, it wouldn't have been met with the same response as "Is there a doctor in the house?"

But as soon as Jordan Geist's historic heave hit the floor last Saturday at Edinboro University, the immediate ovation was followed in quieter tones by a collective question - "Does anybody have a steel tape?"

The Knoch junior's current spot in history is a little loftier thanks to the spool of metal that the father of a Seneca Valley thrower regularly takes to meets.

"I knew steel tapes were needed," Cranberry resident Stan DeBoer said of their significance when a record jump or throw needs verification. "It gave (Jordan) a half an inch because you can't stretch the steel, and you can stretch a fiberglass tape. I read that all records have to be steel. We have been carrying it this many years. We'll just keep on carrying it."

DeBoer, whose son Ryan is a junior at Seneca Valley, said the metal 100-foot tape is his "house tape" that he uses for daily tasks and also went with him to Edinboro for a practice session with his son prior to the first TSTCA meet of 2016.

"Every meet we take it to, just to have it," said DeBoer, who viewed the action from near the throwing cage at Edinboro.

Bethel Park coach Jim Stevenson, who was the event judge, went in search of Tri-State officials and a steel tape immediately after confirming a distance of 71 feet, 2 inches with the flexible tape. Returning empty handed moments later, he was grateful to have the loaner from DeBoer.

"Thank God somebody had a tape because we would have been in big trouble had we not had that," Stevenson said. "That kept the meet going relatively smoother than it would have been without one."

Having been tipped off before the competition about the chances of a memorable day in the ring, the veteran coach was happy to be part of it.

"Absolutely, I knew something great was bound to happen after talking to Jordan's parents and coaches," Stevenson said. "I knew we were in for a big throw today, let alone a few big throws. I knew it was going to happen. Pleasure to be here, something you will remember the rest of your life."

DeBoer also certainly will not forget the events as he has an extra memento of January 30 - a metal tape measure case signed by Pennsylvania's new shot put king.

"He said sure," DeBoer said of Geist's response to the unique autograph request.


Geist with Ron Semkiw, the first PA shot putter to go over the 70-foot mark, at the 2015 Baldwin Invitational (Photo by Phil Grove)

Another who is happy to be a part of the discussion about Geist and his throws that continue to marvel is Ron Semkiw, the original (and still outdoor) king of the shot put in Pennsylvania.

"I'm just happy to see somebody like Jordan getting all the help he deserves," he said. "Not only throwing 71-2.5 but 3 over 70."

Heading into today's meet at Youngstown State, Geist has the top 13 throws in the country and no meet under 65-10 thus far.

"The guy's got incredible talent, and he's deceptive too," Semkiw said of Geist, who continues to build onto his 6-foot, 2-inch frame. "He didn't look different than anybody else (last year at Baldwin), but he was different when he threw."

Semkiw said Geist is making all the right decisions, including the junior's choice to hang up his football cleats for good.

"He is doing everything I wanted to do," Semkiw said of his prep career that reached its peak at 70-1.75 at Shaler in 1972. "It's like a mirror effect 44 years later.

"You have to have the coach. Once you have confidence in what you are doing, the mental power will keep growing and growing.

"It all comes down to how psyched you are, how mentally tough you are," Semkiw continued. "I was 5-11 and 222 (pounds), and I threw 70 feet. If you have a coach who shows you what to do it makes a world of difference."

Although it took 33 years for Ryan Whiting to join Semkiw as a 70-footer, the club needed just 11 more years before growing again.

"I knew I was way ahead because I was the (fourth-best) shot putter ever (at the time)," Semkiw said of breaking the barrier at the WPIAL meet.

Semkiw, who also was the charter member of the 70-70 club (70-foot throws with both the 12- and 16-pound shots), hopes to catch up to the very active schedule that Geist has kept this season at the PTFCA state indoor meet in State College on February 28.

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