Geist Does It: The Knoch Junior Breaks the Outdoor State Shot Put Record

Photo by Phil Grove

Two years ago at the inaugural Knoch Relays, then-freshman Jordan Geist offered a glimpse of things to come with a breakout mark of 61 feet, 4 inches in the shot put.

On Saturday, the Knoch junior showcased a bit more of what he is about as an athlete, obliterating a 44-year-old state record with a US#1 heave of 71-9.25.

"Even my freshman year, I wasn't sure," Geist said of his potential to join the elite group of 70-foot throwers in state history. "Really last year when I threw 67 feet at Penn Relays, I really thought that 70 feet was going to be coming pretty soon."

The right-hander's second throw on a cold and breezy but mostly sunny morning moved him past former Baldwin standout Ron Semkiw on Pennsylvania's all-time outdoor list. Semkiw, who later became the first member of the 70-70 club for reaching the distance with both the 12- and 16-pounders, won the 1972 WPIAL meet at Shaler with a throw of 70-1.75.

"The angle through the sector was definitely good," Geist said of the near-dead-center landing of his record put. "I think I could have gotten more of a linear strike on the end. It was still a little bit rotational, but it was pretty good."

Although Geist's celebration was limited to a few strong claps and a hand slap with his mom and coach Judy as he left the circle, those close to the 2016 indoor national champ spoke about the significance of the outdoor state record.

"He's a silent kid," Judy Geist said of her 17-year-old son, who is now No. 12 outdoors and No. 3 indoors on the all-time national lists. "He doesn't like to celebrate out loud so when he threw that indoor and he celebrated that was the most reaction I've ever seen out of him.

"He has his goals. This was a goal, but it's not his final goal and so he is keeping a lot of that in until he hits right where he wants to be. He's pretty humble about it, too."

Jordan Geist had the indoor shot put record already and now he's owns the outdoor record, too (Photo by Phil Grove)

When contacted at his suburban Pittsburgh home with the news of Geist's performance, the former record holder offered up some of his trademark enthusiasm.

"Fantastic!" Semkiw said. "I really didn't think anyone would throw 70 feet. Pennsylvania is too much of a football state. Fifty-five or 60 is a long throw. I was 10 feet ahead of the rest of the crowd. I never thought I would ever see anybody (throw 70).

"I'm glad somebody especially from the same area did all of the work that is involved. You have to be really dedicated and love what you are doing. I expect a lot more from Jordan."

Semkiw's reign lasted a few minutes longer than the spectators kept at a distance by yellow caution tape thought as Geist's opening throw of the outdoor season landed squarely on the painted 70-foot arc at the edge of the new shot sector. A steel tape was brought in, and Geist was a quarter-inch shy of Semkiw's mark with his 70-1.5 first toss.

"I got pretty mad," Geist said of narrowly missing history on his opener. "Next round is definitely going to be the one, I'm going to crush the state record on the next one. Thankfully I did."

Geist tapped the top of the toe board on his third throw for a foul before adding another 70-footer to his growing list of such marks in 2016, a 70-8.75 effort that brought his series average to 70-10.5.

"I think 70 feet will be the standard for him, and I think it's going to continue to move up farther," club coach Mike Hambrick said in looking ahead at the rest of the 2016 season. "He has made the adaptation to throwing the outdoor shot really fast, and that was what I was worried about. He seems to be very comfortable throwing it now, so I really think we should be seeing some more improvements coming up in the next few weeks."

With an indoor best of 72-9.5, Geist now is the only Pennsylvania prep ever to top 70 feet indoors and out and just the seventh nationally to turn the double.

The steel tape measurement of Geist's record throw (Photo by Phil Grove)

"The first time was the 61-foot throw in ninth-grade that came out of the blue, it was something that was almost supernatural from a kid his size at that time," Hambrick said of when he first realized that Geist had the potential to break the state record. "And then just watching him in training, knowing things we have done in the weight room, the lifting that he's done and the way that he takes his weight room strength and his athleticism and puts it into the shot put. That doesn't happen very often.

"A lot of guys are a lot stronger than Jordan, a lot of guys are a lot bigger but none of them put it all together like he does. He's the total package."

Geist wrapped up his day with a PA#2 in the discus, reaching 176-8 as only the longest throws were recorded for each competitor.

"I'm proud of him, I couldn't be more proud of him," Judy Geist said of her son. "I just know the sky's the limit for him. Whatever he wants, he can achieve it. He knows what he has to do to get there so he works really hard to get there.

"Technically he knows what he does wrong before I even say a word. Today for his record-setting throw as soon as he let it out of his hand he said, 'There it is.' He knew before we even measured it that it was a good throw."