Eastwood’s Welch develops as elite-level hammer thrower

Justin Welch first became familiar with the hammer throw just two years ago.
He’s quickly emerged as one the country’s best throwers in his age group.
The Eastwood High School senior will compete in the event at the Pan American Junior Athletics
Championships in Port of Spain, Trinidad starting July 31.
He qualified for the meet by finishing second in the U.S. Track and Field Championships last month in
Eugene, Ore.
Of course, Welch is no stranger to throwing. He’s already the two-time defending Division II state high
school champion in the discus, and finished third in the shot put at state earlier this year.
The hammer isn’t a state-sanctioned event during the Ohio high school season, although some schools will
have it during selected meets.
"The Pan Am games will help me get more experience to set me up for bigger meets in the
future," said Welch, who hopes to compete in the Olympics some day.
"Big meets like this help you improve by going against better competition. It gives me something to
work for, knowing I can improve and there are guys better than me."
Welch had a personal-best of 216-8 at the U.S. nationals. The hammer is a heavy metal ball attached to
the end of a flexible wire. The weight of the ball varies, with Welch usually throwing a 6- of 12-pound
ball. Conor McCullough of California won the U.S. nationals with a distance of 247-0.
"My goal is to finish second and get a medal," Welch said of the Pan Am Games.
Welch concentrates on throwing the discus and the shot during the spring high school season, working on
both in practice every day. He throws the hammer twice a week during the high school season and then
increases it to four times during the summer. He doesn’t work on the shot and the discus in the summer.

Once school starts in the fall, he’ll begin throwing the shot and discus again daily to prepare for the
winter indoor season and the spring high school season. He also lifts weights three days a week.
Welch finished ninth in the discus (177-1) and 18th in the shot (54-71â„2) at the national meet month.
His distances were good, given he practiced only twice for each event in the week leading up to the
"He’s a smart thrower," said Bowling Green State University assistant coach Justin Carvalho,
who is working with Welch during a camp this summer. "He works on the technique and he works on
making sure he’s doing things right.
"He doesn’t just try to throw. He goes out there with the intent to get better every time, and he’s
willing to work out on his own."
Welch has been throwing the discus and the shot since middle school, and was introduced to the hammer
during a summer track and field camp at Ashland University after his freshman season. The hammer has
been his favorite event since and Welch said it’s his best event. He’s been throwing all three ever
"It was something different and looked really run," Welch said. "I like the rhythm of it,
going real fast and spinning around the ring."
Welch won the U.S. Junior Olympics national meet last summer, throwing 195-0. The meet consisted of
throwers age 18-and-under.
The Pan Am meet is his last summer event for Welch, who throws all year since he isn’t involved any other
"By focusing primarily on throwing, he’s putting himself in position to get the throw base in that
you need," said Carvalho, an All-American in the hammer at Sacramento State in 1997. He also
competed in the U.S. championships and the U.S. Olympic Trials.
"You have to throw a lot of throws to be able to come into the indoor season to start off where you
left off the year before or even hitting a (personal record) right out of the blocks."
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder Welch is well built, but he doesn’t have a typical thrower’s body. Most
throwers are heavier and shorter, but more European throwers are built like Welch.
But Welch has long arms and a long torso, which gives him more leverage to throw.
"He’s a very natural athlete," Carvalho said. "He’s got a great leverage system. He’s
long, he’s lanky. He’s not as strong as his peer group, but he’s got a better leverage system and he
knows how to take advantage of it. He’s able to produce more force than somebody with a shorter leverage
"You combine the leverage with his quickness, his speed and his just overall good sense of
athleticism, and you have a successful thrower."
Welch ranks seventh nationally in the discus (198-6) and 36th in the shot put (61-13â„4).
He has a 3.0 grade-point average and already is being recruited by some of the top programs in the
His top five schools are Auburn, Oklahoma, LSU, Arizona State and Missouri.
"I’m pleased with where I’m at right now, but I want to continue to get better," Welch said.