Brennan Heavilin has come a long way in a short time.
Some 15 months ago, at the start of his freshman track season, he was throwing the shot put about 13 feet.
This past Saturday, Heavilin, who just finished his sophomore year at Tallmadge, finished third in the seated shot put with a toss of 18 feet, 11 1/2 inches at the state track and field meet at The Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
"It was a great experience for Brennan," Blue Devils head coach Mike Srodawa said. "He’s raced against some other seated kids in the 100 (meters), 200 and 400, but this was the first time he has thrown against other seated competitors.
"It was a pretty nerve-racking experience, but I felt I had a shot to win the state championship," Heavilin said. "I was very happy, though, to finish third and get on the podium."
"Compared to last year, Brennan is a beast," Srodawa said. "His times in his races have definitely come down, and in the shot put, he has just excelled because he’s a very strong kid to begin with.
"He has also gotten his technique down with more and more practice. He has done great."
"I’ve definitely gotten a lot better since the beginning of last season," Heavilin said. "I think it’s a combination of getting stronger – I lift weights — and hard work.
"Next year, I think I can finish better than third at the state meet."
Also competing in the shot put in Columbus was Tallmadge senior Matt Kieke. He finished 12th with a throw of 49-6 1/2.
"Going in, there was a possibility that, if Matt set a personal record, he could’ve gotten on the podium," Srodawa said. "It was the first time he threw below 50 in about three weeks.
"You get down there and it’s a different experience. Literally, there are hundreds of people watching. Whereas a lot of the time with the shot put and discus, there might not be anybody but parents watching.
"I thought Matt performed well. The fact that he made it down to Columbus was a huge accomplishment to his work ethic. It was good to see."
Srodawa conceded that losing Kieke and the other seniors will be tough, but he believes there is a strong group of athletes coming back next season.
"We’ve got a great base of kids who are definitely going to help," he said. "It will be a good group."