Photo by John Roemer
As a freshman during the 2013-14 indoor season, Hereford's Mike Nash finished sixth in the shot put at the 2A state championships. He captured his first state title in the event a year later as sophomore and would go on to add three more (two shot put, one discus) over the course of his high school career, during which he established himself as the best thrower in the class of 2017.
Nash made several trips to elite competitions, including a sixth-place finish at the Penn Relays as a senior and multiple showings in the championship event at New Balance nationals. He broke the Hereford school record during his final season, as well, throwing over 60 feet twice during the spring. Now, before he continues his decorated career at the next level, MileSplit reached out to explore the man behind the muscle.
MileSplit: Was shot putting your first interest heading into high school? How were you introduced to the event?
Mike Nash: My brother was the first to really introduce me to the event. I threw a little bit in eighth grade but that was just with him maybe five or six times. I knew it was what I wanted to do coming into high school after football, but I had no idea it would become of my favorite things to do.
MS: Which event do you enjoy more - the shot put or the discus?
MN: Both events are equally tedious as far as training goes with drilling, lifting and throwing. However, I think I may enjoy shot put more due to the simple fact that I am better at it than I am discus. I've always had a love-hate relationship with the discus because when you really get out after the throw and feel the whip come through, it is such an amazing feeling; but then again there is nothing worse than feeling it come out of your hand wrong and it hits the cage.
MS: What is one important aspect about training for the shot put or discus that most people don't know about?
MN: Speed work and jumping! I've heard the comparison a lot by upper level throwers. Throwers are pretty much oversized jumpers. That's why the best throwers are the most athletic ones - you can't just be big and strong and step in the circle and expect to throw far.
MS: How did you feel when you first threw over 50 feet? What was your initial reaction?
MN: I actually remember this one exactly. It was my sophomore year and my personal record was around 48 feet. I went to the Knights Invitational and I opened up around 48-49 feet. Then during the finals I got a different cue than the one I had been using and warmed up around 50 feet, finally throwing all three throws over 50 in the competition. It was an amazing feeling, but I'm always hard on myself so I remember being mad about not throwing 52 and only hitting 51'7.
MS: If you didn't compete in track and field you would ____________ ?
MN: I would have definitely pursued football more and also most likely have wrestled in the winter. I think if track wasn't there, I would have trained year-round for football and really attempted to play at the next level.
MS: You hit the 60 foot mark earlier this spring - how long had that been a goal of yours?
MN: That had been a goal of mine ever since I was a freshman coming into Hereford. The school record was 60 feet for outdoor, so ever since I saw that on the record list as a freshman I wanted it to be mine.
MS: What have you learned about shot put/discus training that you wish your freshman self had known?
MN: I have the build for it, I wish I had committed to the spin my freshman year instead of waiting until my junior outdoor season. I am nowhere near the build for a glider.
MS: You have been to both New Balance indoor and outdoor nationals for the shot put. What is it like to be around some of the best throwers in the U.S.?
MN: The atmosphere is amazing at these bigger meets with these better throwers. That's my favorite thing about these bigger meets - everyone there is passionate and cares about throwing.
MS: What do you normally do in between throws? Do you like to be locked in, or talk with other guys?
MN: I highly prefer to be locked in, at most meets I will try to separate myself from the other guys and walk over to my own area and do my own thing. For me in all sports, it's always been about being able to flip that switch and put on a game face.
MS: What is the most helpful advice you've gotten from one of your competitors?
MN: The best advice I've ever gotten was to calm down and just go out there and do it, don't overthink anything.
MS: What would you consider "perfect" throwing conditions?
MN: Around 75 degrees and sunny; I hate throwing in the heat as much as I hate throwing in the cold.
MS: How do you normally stay in shape/continue to improve during the offseason (summer/fall)?
MN: It's all about following a good program and dedicating yourself to at least three hours or so a day for training. Obviously sometimes you will have a day off, but it's really about time management and putting in the work?
MS: What is the one thing you are looking forward to the most when you head off to college this fall?
MN: Being able to learn at a higher level, and not just in the classroom. It's going to be a lot better experience to be around some of the highest levels of coaches and athletes. There are so many different theories and variables when it comes to throwing and I want to learn as much as I can about the sport and its training to hopefully be able to coach one day.
- Favorite non-throwing event
The pole vault - obviously not to compete in, but still the pole vault.
- Favorite during-meet snack
I really like trail mix or almonds.
- Favorite subject in school
Can never go wrong with Phys Ed.
- Best track and field memory
Penn Relays!!! I was seeded 21st, then made finals and placed sixth overall. It was my first really big meet that I had made finals at and the energy there was AMAZING!