The 2011 Meet of Champions was a mixed bag for Franklin senior shot putter Chris Staton. He threw a disappointing 49 feet, which wasn’t close to a medal. But it was also a pivotal starting point for a memorable finish in 2012.
“I had a whole bunch of motivation because I knew I would have another year to prove to be better,” said Staton. “But I do remember leaving mad with my head down.”
His head was clearly held very high Monday night at Old Bridge’s Lombardi Field as he was handed a gold medal in front of the press tent.
Staton threw a Somerset County record 64-feet, 7½ inches to become the first-ever county shot putter to win an all group title in the event. His first throw of the night was 60-6, the second, 60 -7½, and then his best on the final throw of the prelim. He also threw 60-10½ on his first throw of the final. Nobody else in the field hit 60.
His consistency is what particularly impressed weight coaches Rick Krieger and Jamon Dunn.
“He was all over the place last year, but everything tonight is right down the middle,” Krieger said.
Staton’s only disappointment was that Bridgeton unbeaten junior Braheme Days wasn’t able to compete because of a knee injury. The national indoor and Penn Relays champs has the No. 1 distance for the season in the nation with a 68-8½ ,which was more than four feet better than Staton’s best — before the Meet of Champions.
“I think there’s a possibility that I could have thrown better if he was here because we would have pushed each other,” Staton said.
Staton, who will attend either Essex Community College or Middlesex County College, was second to Days at the indoors Meet of Champion, but otherwise was nearly flawless.
He won North 2 IV and Group IV indoor and outdoor titles. His only bad outing was at the Penn Relays.
“It was just a lot of repetition,” said Staton, who worked with Krieger and the Warriors’ other weight coach Jamon between throws. “I was getting in the circle they weren’t using and going through the spin, going through the spin, making sure I was low before I threw, then making sure I exploded when I threw.”
He picked up the shot for the first time as a freshman.
“I only did it for football, but my coaches told me I could be really good at it because I progressed at it pretty quickly, I ended up picking track and field over football and it ended up being the right choice,” he said.
He never gave up playing football. He was a starting two-way lineman for the Warriors.
“Even during football, I’m not going to lie, sometimes I was thinking about track and field this year,” Staton said. “I really wanted to do good this year. “