I’m going to sound a bit redundant right now, but last year I began my recap by suggesting it would be difficult to top the previous season. I stand corrected. After this past season it might really be a challenge.
We began the season with two Forza Athletics high-school throwers. Two that went onto have very special seasons, and that joined very exclusive clubs along the way. On the men’s side, I’d like to talk about William Gross. William was a standout senior at St. Joe’s, located in Buffalo, NY. He began the season with a personal best of 59’ in the 25lb. weight throw and 45’ in the shot-put. We started working together at right around this time last summer. I knew from our first practice that William was a very talented thrower. He is a stickler for detail, asks a lot of questions, and is one of the most determined athletes I’ve ever coached.
From our early conversations, William was fueled by his performance at the previous year’s New York State Indoor Track and Field Championships. William narrowly missed qualifying for the finals of the State championship in the 25lb. weight throw. At the time, that probably wasn’t the outcome he wanted, however if he would have made the finals last year I don’t believe he would have had the season he did this year. William opened with a personal best throw of 66’ in the weight throw in December! In a couple of months William added 7’ to his personal best throw. I knew it would be difficult to maintain that momentum throughout the course of the whole season, but William proved me wrong.
William, I believe is the most consistent thrower I’ve ever coached. He was always within a foot or two of his personal best this season. He won more meets than he lost, but threw farthest when it mattered most. He unleashed a monster throw at the 2019 Indoor State Championships, securing the victory with a throw just over 70’. In the span of 12 months William added 11’ to his personal best in the weight throw. His winning throw broke the Section VI record for the men’s 25lb. weight throw. To top it off, William also threw the shot-put over 50’ at the same meet. This very rare accomplishment has only been completed by 6 throwers before him. William became the 7th male New York State thrower to throw the 25lb. weight over 70’ and the shot-put over 50’ in the same season. He accomplished this feat in the same meet!
Last year, Forza Athletics senior thrower Drew Palermo accomplished the feat as well, throwing the weight over 70’ and the shot-put over 50’ in the same season. Two Forza Athletics throwers have accomplished the very rare 70/50 double. William is taking his talents to Akron University, where he will be majoring in Engineering and will be a member of the Akron Zips men’s track and field team. Congratulations William and best wishes to you on all your future endeavors!
On the women’s side, junior thrower Monique Hardy returned for her third season as a Forza Athletics thrower. Monique completed one of the most historic seasons in New York State throwing history. Monique won the Monroe County, Section V, and Section V state qualifying meets by very large margins. As the top ranked thrower in the nation, Monique entered the New York State championships as the top ranked female weight throw. Similar to her previous championship meet outcomes, Monique comfortably won the New York State 20lb. weight throw championship. At the New Balance Indoor National Championship meet the following weekend, Monique moved up to #6 all-time in the women’s 20lb. weight throw, throwing 64’7”. Her throw won her the New Balance National Championship in the 20lb. weight throw! Monique finished the season as the #1 ranked thrower in the United States, while also breaking the New York State junior class record in the process. Monique is just under 1’ away from breaking the New York State 20lb. weight throw record. She also narrowly missed breaking the national junior class record in the 20lb. weight throw. Next year Monique has the opportunity to become the first female high-school thrower to throw the 20lb. weight over 70’. There is not much more I can say about Monique’s indoor season. Much like last year, it was one for the record books!
On the post-collegiate side, Luis Rivera maintained his status as one of the best 35lb. weight throwers in the country. Luis increased his average in the weight by almost a full meter compared to the previous season. Again, Luis qualified for the USATF Indoor National Championships in the 35lb. weight throw, but elected not to compete at the meet this year. With his focus on qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Trials in the men’s hammer throw, Luis primarily threw the weight this season as a training tool for the hammer.
Outdoors, Luis set another personal best in the hammer throw, throwing over 65m on multiple occasions. Similar to the weight throw, Luis increased his season average in the hammer by about a meter and a half. He set a new personal best by over 2 meters, but the increase in average tells me that he is going to have a huge 2020 season in which I believe he will be one of the elite men’s hammer throwers competing in the 2020 Olympic Trials!
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.