THIELLS – Some people seem to be born with athletic gifts. And some make themselves into great athletes.
Three years ago, then-North Rockland freshman Eric Favors began the winter track season by throwing the shot an unimpressive 29 feet.
This spring, Favors, The Journal News Rockland boys outdoor track and field athlete of the year, threw it 66 feet, 7 inches, the best all-time in Section 1.
His improvement doesn’t surprise his older brother, Darius, who introduced Eric to the sport when Eric was in eighth grade.
“He caught on really quickly,” said Darius, who recently finished his collegiate career at SUNY-Brockport, where he was one of the top Division III discus throwers in the country.
Favors added nearly 6 feet to his outdoor shot throw from eighth to the end of ninth grade, then tacked on more than 13 feet during his sophomore season before continuing to progress.
“He feels he can do so much more than he has,” Darius said. Agreeing, he added, “He can achieve anything.”
Favors, who’ll throw on scholarship for the University of South Carolina next year, pointed to his sophomore year as key.
“I had a big personal best and thought, ‘This is fun now.’ I started watching YouTube videos (of shot putters),” he recalled.
Beginning last year, he supplemented his normal weight training, receiving permission to use the high school weight room before school three times a week.
“I always stayed on the weights. I think the morning workouts really helped improve me a lot,” the 6-foot, 245-pounder said.
But, cognizant of the need to maintain flexibility, he also regularly runs and does agility exercises.
That may come in handy in college, since he’s being encouraged to change from his glide-and-throw release to a release off a spin.
“Speed equals power, too. I don’t want to be a big blob,” said Favors, who is also first-team all-Rockland in discus.
Favors’ commitment is evident in his summer plans. A Jersey Shore vacation will include gym trips. He missed both his prom and high school graduation last week to compete in the U.S Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Favors, who was state indoor and outdoor shot champ this year (his indoor win coming on a “pretty nerve-racking” state-record last throw), threw his personal-best 66-7 outdoors at the New Balance Nationals in North Carolina in June.
That gave him third place. The top three throwers earned an all-expense-paid July 9-10 trip to Chicago, where they’ll receive tips from Olympic throwers before competing.
Favors, who competed there last year, too, expects to try spinning at that time.
It’s how his shot idol, Adam Nelson, throws. Like Nelson, Favors encourages the crowd to clap before his throws, a psyching-up mechanism. And he also screams upon letting the shot go, something his late coach, Bob Murphy, encouraged.
“I think screams get a couple more feet into it,” Favors said.
Murphy, a longtime Rockland coach, who returned to the school in Favors’ sophomore year but only coached him briefly before becoming ill, developed three 60-foot-plus and 30 50-foot-plus shot putters during an earlier 26 years at North Rockland.
Favors would have been his fourth 60-footer.
Referring to Murphy and current coaches Tom Donohue and Gene Dall, among others, Favors said,, “The support here is amazing. I love all the coaches. They treated me well and really helped me a lot.”
Favors then glanced up at one side of the high school gym, where state champions from Murphy’s era and others are honored with banners bearing their names.
“I left on a high note. I PB’d,” he said, referring to his personal-best throw, “and I finally made it on the wall.”
The rest of The Journal News first-team boys Rockland boys outdoor track all-stars
100 meters — Wyatt Brooks, Jr., North Rockland
110 hurdles — Josh Etkind, Sr., Clarkstown North
200 — Wyatt Brooks, Jr., North Rockland
400 — Mike Merced, Sr., Pearl River
400 hurdles — Chima Ezeilo, Jr., North Rockland
800 — Luke Gavigan, Sr., Tappan Zee
1,600 — Luke Gavigan, Sr., Tappan Zee
1 mile — Luke Gavigan, Sr., Tappan Zee
3,200 — Liam Burke, Sr., Tappan Zee
Steeplechase — Patrick Hehir, Sr., Tappan Zee
4×100 relay — Nyack (Adonis Acine, Sr.; Malyk Michel, Jr.; Justin Marsland, Fr.; Dante Brown, So.)
4×400 relay — North Rockland (Kingmil Miceus, Sr.; Chima Ezeilo, Jr.; Philippe Louise-Juste, Jr.; Wyatte Brooks, Jr.)
4×800 relay — Tappan Zee (Ellis Guzewich, Jr.; Pat Hehir, Sr.; Liam Burke, Sr., Luke Gavigan, Sr.)
High jump — Luqman Issah, Jr., Pearl river
Long jump — Yanik Martin, Sr., Clarkstown North
Triple jump — Jamal Akpaloo, Sr., North Rockland
Pole vault — Matt Leanza, Sr., Suffern
Pentathlon — Matt Brady, Sr., Nanuet
Javelin — Sean Smahaj, Sr., North Rockland
At large — Jared Benn, Sr., Suffern; Josh Ayala, Jr., Clarkstown North; Parris Heath, Jr., Ramapo
Coach of the year: Gene Dall, North Rockland
110 hurdles — Jeff Sanawong, Sr., Nanuet
400 — Lugduni Derosiers, Jr., Spring Valley
400 hurdles —Frank Schiavone, Sr., Nanuet
1,600 — Brian Camillieri, So., Nanuet
Mile — Brian Camillieri, So., Nanuet
3,200 — Ricky Stephens, Sr., North Rockland
Steeplechase — Matt LeMoine, Sr., North Rockland
4×100 — North Rockland (Rob Schepis, Jr.; Nicholas Cortez, Jr.; Jamal Akpaloo, Sr.; Wyatt Brooks, Jr.; Raheem Givans, Sr.)
4×400 — Pearl River (Sean Sorohan, Jr.; Mike Merced, Sr., Liam O’Sullivan, Jr., Joe Metcalfe, So.); Ramapo (Chris Scott, Sr.; Decarlo Richards, Sr., Gerry Gilot, Sr.; Rollens Florvil, Jr.)
4×800 — Pearl River (Mike Merced, Sr.; Matt Politis, Fr.; Liam O’Sullivan, Jr.; Brian Mahoney, 8th; Ben McDermott, Sr.)
High jump — Ryan Dwyer, Jr., Nanuet
Long jump — Ethan Dowie, Sr., Pearl River
Triple jump — Tom Abrahamson, Sr., Pearl River
Pole vault — Daeseob Lim, So., Tappan Zee
Pentathlon — Luis Santory, Sr., Suffern
Discus — Failey Celestin, Sr., Nanuet
Shot put — Ricksen Opant, Sr., Nyack
Harvin Bhandal, Sr., Clarkstown North; Mike Danyluk, Jr., Clarkstown South; Kevin Diaz, Jr., North Rockland; Liam Donohue, Sr., Tappan Zee; Caleb Ferdilus, Sr., Ramapo; Trevon Gordon, Jr., Ramapo; Peter Holohan, So., Clarkstown South; Stanley Johnson, Sr., North Rockland; Kieran Lacassade, Sr., North Rockland; Jake Kurzhais, Jr., Pearl River; Zach Levine, Sr., Suffern; Brandon O’Connor, Sr., Nanuet; Liam Mallon, Sr., North Rockland; Antony Misko, So., Suffern; Julio Polanco, Sr., Clarkstown North; Evan Santana, Sr., Clarkstown South; Lamar Seward, So., North Rockland; Myles Solan, So., Suffern; Eric Swerdin, Sr., Clarkstown North; Tarique Wilson, Sr., North Rockland
100 meters — Rai Benjamin, Sr., Mount Vernon; Danny Elia, Sr., Sleepy Hollow; Josh Etkind, Sr., Clarksown North
110 hurdles — David Adams, Jr.; Beacon; Danny Elia, Sr., Sleepy Hollow, Josh Etkind, Sr., Clarkstown North
200 — Rai Benjamin, Sr., Mount Vernon; Wyatt Brooks, Jr., North Rockland; Josh Dacres, Sr., Lakeland/Panas
400 — Rai Benjamin, Sr., Mount Vernon; Abdul Byabusha, Sr., Ossining; Josh Dacres, Sr., Lakeland/Panas
400 hurdles — David Adams, Jr., Beacon; Rai Benjamin, Sr., Mount Vernon; Danny Elia, Sr., Sleepy Hollow
800 — James Asselmeyer, Sr., Arlington; Luke Gavigan, Sr., Tappan Zee; Patrick Watts, Sr., Pleasantville
1,600 — Mike Delfay, Jr., Brewster; Luke Gavigan, Sr., Tappan Zee; Benito Muniz, Sr., Carmel
3,200 — Drew Dorflinger, Jr., Pleasantville; Kevin Hazelwood, Jr., Brewster; Sawyer Maher, Sr., Carmel
Steeplechase — Eion Nohilly, Jr., John Jay-Cross River; Grant Sheely, Sr., Dobbs Ferry; Ben Smith, Sr., John Jay-Cross River
4×100 relay — Lakeland/Panas (JT Aggrey, Sr.; Sean Chatman, Sr.; Avalon Garrick, So.; Josh Dacres, Sr.); Mount Vernon (Tyrese Moore, So.; Akeim Brown, Sr.; Robert Romney, Sr.; Cody Housen, Sr.); Ossining (Abdul Byabusha, Kaiel Blake, Shea Holbrook, AJ Otero)
4×400 relay — Lakeland/Panas (Jason Bingay, Sr.; Cullen Malzo, Sr.; Josh Dacres, Sr.; Veeral Shah, Sr.); Mount Vernon (Rai Benjamin, Sr.; Jason Perlaza, Akeim Brown, Joshua Zincke); North Rockland (Kingmil Miceus, Sr.; Chima Ezeilo, Jr.; Philippe Louise-Juste, Jr.; Wyatte Brooks, Jr.)
4×800 relay — Arlington (James Asselmeyer, Joseph Morrison, Reece Ragusa, Eric Sbrollini, Devere Knight); Pleasantville (Eli Waxler, Sr.; Eamon Coburn, Sr.; JC Yahia, So.; Patrick Watts, Sr.);Tappan Zee (Ellis Guzewich, Jr.; Pat Hehir, Sr.; Liam Burke, Sr., Luke Gavigan, Sr.
High jump — Josh Ayala, Jr., Clarkstown North; Luqman Issah, Jr., Pearl River; John Wiley, Sr., Eastchester
Long jump — Josh Ayala, Jr., Clarsktown North; Rayvon Grey, Jr., Beacon; Yanik Martin, Sr., Clarkstown North.
Triple jump — Jamal Akpaloo, Sr., North Rockland; Josh Etkind, Sr., Clarkstown North; Rayvon Grey, Jr., Beacon
Pole vault — Daesob Lim, So., Tappan Zee; Jeff Sanawong, Sr. , Nanuet; Matt Leanza, Sr., Suffern
Discus — Eric Favors, Sr., North Rockland; John Andersen, Sr., R.C. Ketcham; Rickssen Oponte, Sr., Nyack
Shot put — Eric Favors, Sr., North Rockland; Parris Heath, Jr.; Ramapo; Rickssen Oponte, Sr. Nyack
Sunday, June 28: Baseball
Monday, June 29: Softball
Tuesday, June 30: Tennis
Wednesday, July 1: Golf
Thursday, July 2: Girls track
Friday, July 3: Boys track
Saturday, July 4: Girls lacrosse
Sunday, July 5: Boys lacrosse