Jordan Geist smashes state record with 74-3.5

Photo by Don Rich

Jordan Geist arrived in Shippensburg on Thursday ready to make history.

Twenty-four hours later, the Knoch junior wasted little time in adding another PR, a pair of state records and a PIAA gold medal to his 2016 collection.

"It definitely felt really good," Geist said of his opening throw of 74 feet, 3.5 inches that bumped him up a notch to US#6 AT outdoors. "I was nice and relaxed and was able to hit a decent finish. Nice and quick."

The right-hander's new lifetime best extended his national junior class and all-time state records but almost more importantly dismantled the PIAA meet record of 70-0 by Ryan Whiting in 2005.

"I really just tried to keep it in the back of my mind," Geist said of the opportunity to break his hero's PIAA mark that was one of only two 70-footers ever by Pennsylvanians before Geist got rolling in 2016. "I tried not putting a number in my mind, just trying to stay relaxed. Luckily today, 70 feet wasn't really an issue."

While 70-foot throws have become the norm for Geist, what was unusual about Friday's record launch of the 12-pound ball was that it came in round 1. Normally, the nation's top shot putter dials up the intensity and distances as the competition rolls along.

"It was almost predicted the first one being a big one," said Mike Hambrick, Geist's club coach. "I was kind of afraid of it being a big one because I knew it would be hard to recreate that 74ish. I knew he would be in the grass (beyond the sector).

"The warmups were kind of indifferent, and then he hit the last one around 73 and we said 'you're ready to go. Give me that again,' and that's exactly what he did."

After a second-round foul, Geist backed up his latest record with his only other measured throw of the event, a 73-3 blast that would have been a lifetime best by several inches if not for his massive opener.

"The heat definitely helped me stay warm and nice and loose throughout it," Geist said of the afternoon competition. "Yesterday, I had a really good practice with the 5(-kilo shot). I threw one about 77 feet. I knew it was going to transition today. Thankfully it did."

To put Geist's massive record in perspective, the only other PIAA record still on the books from the 2005 meet is Nicole Smith's long jump mark of 20-3. To match the percentage increase of Geist's new mark, that AAA girls record would have to be broken by a whopping 15 inches, moving it to 21-6.

Geist's throw is the second longest in the country since Nick Vena's 75-10.25 in 2011 and places the Knight ever so close to Louisiana's Arnold Campbell (74-10.5 in 1984) on the all-time list. The junior, who is the leading qualifier heading into Saturday's AAA discus at 192-11, was the first and still is the longest of four preps to crack 70-0 (and 71-0) thus far this season.

"His constant is a 70 anymore," said Judy Geist, Jordan's mom and throws coach at Knoch. "It's a fluke if he throws anything under that.

"The sky's the limit for him. I think he doesn't put a number on it because he doesn't want to put pressure on himself because that's all he will think about. If he just PRs from week to week, he's happy with that."

Somewhat lost in the excitement surrounding another record day by Geist was the performance by Lawson Monta. Entering the competition as the No. 2 qualifier after finishing behind Geist in the WPIAL (District 7) meet, the Greensburg Salem senior started to move closer to Geist with a 57-1.5 in round 2 and a 58-1.75 in round 3 that had him throwing next to last.

Monta, who is headed to Marietta in the fall to throw for the Pioneers, cracked the elite 60-foot barrier in round 5 with a PR 61-1.25 that is PA#4 this year.

"I've known Jordan for so long now, we threw when we were real little," Monta said of his longtime rival. "It's nothing really new anymore to me, seeing kids throw like that.

"With it being Jordan, I'm extremely happy for him. I knew that (gold) would be untouchable this year, but I won in my head because I PRed today. It was an overall good day. We are all good friends out there. Nothing really changed from freshman year to senior year just distances."