Jul. 3—Ten more feet?
Mitchell Weber smiled.
“Ten feet is very doable,” he said. “Maybe even next year.”
Weber, a St. Clair native, came up short in his bid last week to make the United States track and field team, which will compete in the Summer Olympics next month at Tokyo. But he gained great experience by competing in the NCAA meet and U.S. Olympic Trials as a redshirt freshman at the University of Missouri.
“I gained a lot of confidence,” he said, stopping by the school at St. Clair before heading out of town for a vacation. “I was the only collegiate thrower in the finals, and I see people still competing that are 10, 11 years older than me. I’m still trying to fulfill the dream, and this just makes me hungrier.”
With his parents Ray and Sarah Weber in the stands, Weber placed 12th in the discus throw at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which were held at Eugene, Oregon, covering 185-feet-4 in his best of three throws. Mason Finley, who took first place, threw 206-11.
Weber got through the qualifying round in 11th at 194-10, joining 11 other throwers in the finals. The top three made the Olympic team.
“I guess there were some nerves,” he said. “It went well; I just wish it had gone better. It was a great experience. It’s mind-boggling walking into a $250 million stadium, competing against the best in the United States.”
Weber, who didn’t compete as a freshman in 2019 and had 2020 wiped out by the pandemic, was named the Southeastern Co-Newcomer of the Year. He finished second at the conference championships at 195-4 and advanced to the NCAA meet, where he placed a disappointing 23rd at 167-8.
“I was ready to compete after two years of basically no competitions,” Weber said. “I started to wonder if I’d ever get to compete in college, but it’s been an exciting year.”
Weber won five high school state championships — three in discus and two in shot put — while competing at St. Clair. He received a scholarship to Missouri, where he is a junior in academics but a freshman in athletic eligibility.
He’s adjusted to a discus that weighs nearly one pound more than in high school and keeps learning more about technique and preparing for competitions, setting a personal-best of 200-1 this last season. He’s also competed in the shot put, hammer throw and weight throw.
Now back at St. Clair, Weber is taking some time off, continuing with weightlifting and throwing at least one day per week. He’s headed back to Missouri in late July to start preparing for the indoor season, where he’ll work on shot put and weight throw, before getting back to the discus in the spring.
He said he needs to work on being more comfortable in the competition ring, getting more extension with his arm, and standing up at release, improving his launch angle. He is working on becoming more aggressive with his throws instead of wasting one attempt on a “safe” throw.
Weber has his eye on the NCAA meet again, and the World Championships will be at Eugene, Oregon, next summer. In three years, there will be another Olympic qualifier.
“(The world championships is) my goal for next year, for sure,” Weber said.
He’s still waiting for that “big throw,” when the weather cooperates and his technique is perfect.
When that happens, he’ll throw another 10 feet and compete for a spot on the national team.
“Just to make the finals (at the Olympic Trials) as a 21-year-old, that was exciting,” Weber said. “Technically, I feel great. I feel good about the future.”
Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.