JOHNSONBURG – Michael Shuey and the Johnsonburg track and field coaching staff ran the gamut of emotions last Friday during the javelin event at the PIAA Track and Field Championship Meet at Shippensburg University.
In the end, the wonder with the anticipation to victory became joy with the realization of a gold medal for the Johnsonburg senior.
Shuey took the PIAA gold medal in the javelin with a throw of 200-1, a mark he established with his first throw of the competition.
"Right before the last throw, I knew I won and it felt really good," Shuey said. "I was really happy. Mr. (Curt) Breakey was very happy. It was good."
Breakey, an assistant coach on the track and field staff, had to wait on the result after posting the high mark early in the competition.
"(It was) Very nervewracking, very intense," Breakey said. "After he threw the 200-1, it was a waiting game. We were on edge, pins and needles until that last final throw and we knew we had it. When he threw 200 feet, he relaxed."
Shuey qualified for states with a second-place finish at the district meet on May 18 with a mark of 189-8, 11 feet and five inches less than his state-winning throw. Ryan Kerr of Brookville was the district champion with a throw of 207-2 at the D-9 meet. Kerr finished with the PIAA bronze medal with a mark of 194-8. Shuey knew Kerr was going to be a primary rival and showed it at districts.
"Ryan Kerr threw further than me at the very beginning and I just kept trying to overthrow and I didn't do very good," Shuey said.
Tyler Hope of Tamaqua Area won the silver medal with a mark of 198-4 with Kerr one spot behind. Shuey said he and Kerr wanted to finish 1-2 at the state meet.
"We didn't care who won and who lost but either way I wanted it to be me and him because we are very close friends," Shuey said.
Shuey was second-to-last in the throwing order.
Johnsonburg head coach Rene Timm said she was happy Shuey set the standard early on.
"The first throw was just amazing," Timm said. "I was so happy that he brought it out. Him and Ryan had gone back and forth for so many meets, I was so glad that Mikey came out on top. Right when the last kid threw, and Mikey only had his last throw and he knew he had won, I immediately broke into tears, I was like a proud mom. I can only imagine what Donna (Shuey's mother) feels like."
Breakey said it was a well-deserved honor for Shuey.
"I had tears in my eyes, I was so happy for him," Breakey said. "He's such a nice kid. Mike did it the right way. Mike went to the clinics, in the summer we'd go up. He weightlifted, was totally dedicated. He studied and that's how you become a state champ. A lot of kids have talent but to carry it to that level, you have to do the extra and Mike did the extra and he always shares his success with everybody around him. He's such a good kid, he really is."
Shuey's state-winning mark of 200-1 wasn't even his best throw of the season. He finished with one of the top high school javelin marks in the country at the Brookville Invitational on April 10 as he threw 212-2.
"I was looking up and about to scratch it and then I realized it was going a lot further than I thought," Shuey said.
After the Brookville mark, Shuey hadn't crossed the 200-feet plateau until last Friday.
"He threw that 212 early in the season," Breakey said. "I told him, 'You're not going to get that every meet.' He has a range between this and that. I think he was a bit frustrated losing districts. That really helped his confidence with that 200-footer."
Breakey said he had to keep Shuey from overthrowing and keep him focused on fundamentals.
"I think he was trying to overthrow at earlier meets, we talked a lot about that. Just keeping your composure, throwing it," Breakey said. "He knows how to throw the javelin, he just needed to do it and not try to overdo it. I think that was a key. Rely back on your fundamentals, relax and let it go because he can do it."
Shuey has signed on to be on the Penn State track and field next season and knows he can throw even better.
"I still have things to work on, I can throw further," Shuey said. "Me and Mr. Breakey and (assistant coach) Chad Yurchick will be up here during the summer a lot. Maybe during the summer, I can improve a lot more."
Timm started as head coach for Johnsonburg with Shuey as a freshman and she couldn't be prouder of his accomplishments.
"He's a dedicated athlete, he's a wonderful student," Timm said. "He's smart and bright and so dedicated in what he does. It couldn't have gone to a more deserving athlete. It was a great way to end his senior year."