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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Sometimes it's easier to accomplish a goal when you've already pictured it happening in your head.

Eastwood senior Justin Welch can vouch for that.

At last Saturday's Division II state track and field meet in Columbus, Welch had one more attempt in the shot put for a chance to beat two-time defending state champion Matthew Hoty of Sandusky Perkins.

“I was pretty calm,” Welch said. “I kind of just had a feeling I was going to be able to pull it out. I had a little smile on my face that I was going to beat him. I was going through the meet the night before and how it would go, that I would be in first place in the prelims and two people would go ahead of me and I would win it on the last throw.

“I always liked having it come down to my last throw. There have been some other meets where I would pull out a big throw on my last one. I was hoping for it to be like that.”

Welch, who had already won his third straight state discus title with a meet-record throw of 197-1, watched as Hoty broke his own meet record in the shot (62-9.75) on his final attempt. The 6-2, 210-pound Welch had the next throw, his final one, in what proved to be a do-or-die situation.

“When it left my hand,” Welch said, “I knew it was going to be a good one. I just knew it was going to be enough to win. From the way it hit, it felt like 64 feet because it was close to the 65-foot line.”

Welch, who took third in the shot at last year's state meet, had thrown over 63 feet, a career best, at an invitational in Wayne, Ohio, earlier this season. Eastwood coach Gary White knew Welch had the distance in him.

“We talked way before the competition started and I said his whole deal was, I don't care if he won as long as he threw well,” White said. “Hoty was supposed to win, and there was another kid from Cleveland (Adam Patterson of Benedictine) who had a farther throw. I told Justin the pressure was on them, not you. He was just really focused and he knew what he wanted to do. It was storybook. He knew he had it when the shot hit the ground.”

Welch's final attempt sailed a meet-record distance of 62-11.75, earning him the shot put title.

“I was on top of the world,” Welch said. “That was my goal for the whole meet, to win shot put. I had never won that event. It was in the back of my head, winning that, all year. I doubted myself a lot, but I was going to go out and give it my best.”

Welch couldn't have written a better script. He'd set two state meet records and in the process helped Eastwood win its second straight Division II state title.

“It didn't really sink in until Sunday night,” Welch said. “It hit me all at once. It kind of drained me. I was all excited from the whole weekend. I focused on one thing and all of a sudden it hit me. I won two state titles like I wanted to and we won the team title again. It just drained all the energy out of me. It's definitely a relief.”

Welch, who graduated on Sunday afternoon, was coached by Eastwood assistant Bob Patterson.

“He definitely helped me out a lot during the season,” Welch said. “He helped me with more of the smaller things in my technique, especially at meets. He would tell me what was wrong and fine-tune things. He is a good guy and really helpful.”

Next year Welch will compete for the University of Georgia, where he plans to major in criminal justice or ceramic engineering. He was back at practice on Monday, preparing for the Junior Nationals in Iowa in July.

“I think winning the shot my senior year was the most special,” Welch said. “I was the underdog going in. I think my coaches and teammates thought I could win, but no one else did. The discus, I'm ecstatic to have won three years in a row, but the shot is kind of standing out right now.”

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