Eastwood’s Welch to compete in track at Georgia


LUCKEY — Justin Welch didn’t even have the University of Georgia on the original list of schools he
wanted to attend.
But the more the Eastwood High School senior learned, the more he fell in love with the school and the
Bulldogs’ track and field program.
The two-time defending state champion in the discus and an outstanding performer in the shot put and the
hammer throw has verbally committed to Georgia and will receive a full scholarship. He’ll sign his
national letter of intent in February during track’s next signing period.
Welch is regarded as the top throwing recruit in the nation in his class and ranks in the top 10 of all
four of his events.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder is the top returning thrower in the nation in the discus (198-6) and is second
nationally in both the
hammer (232-6) and the 25 pound weight throw (76-1), both of which rank first in Ohio. The weight throw
is contested during the winter indoor season.
Welch’s best of 61-13?4 in the shot ranks eighth nationally and fourth in Ohio. He finished third in the
state meet in that event last season.
He finished third in the hammer at the Junior Pan-Am Games this summer with a distance of 68.22 meters,
about 223 feet. He qualified for that meet by finishing second in the U.S. Track and Field
“Georgia was one of the later schools to contact me,” Welch said. “They started to talk to me late this
summer. I had heard a little bit about them, but never gave them a lot of consideration and then I
started hearing more and more about them.”
Welch started talking to Michigan State throwing coach John Newell, a six-time NCAA qualifier in the
hammer and the weight throw at Georgia, about the Bulldogs and became interested.
Georgia assistant Don Babbitt is one of the best throwing coaches in the country. Bulldog throwers have
won eight NCAA titles, 47 All-American honors and 35 Southeastern Conference titles under Babbitt. He’s
also coached a number of Olympians.
Welch visited Georgia the first weekend in October and committed to the school the week after he
He canceled visits to Oregon, LSU, Arizona State and Kentucky after choosing Georgia.
“I really liked everything so much that I knew it was the place for me. They have a great program and
coach Babbitt is really good,” said Welch, who has a 3.0 grade-point and plans to major in criminal
Although Welch’s interest in Georgia came later, the Bulldogs were interested in him early. Babbitt was
in Columbus June 5 to watch Welch throw the shot in the Division II state meet.
Under NCAA rules, Babbitt can’t comment on Welch until he’s received his signed national letter.
“When Georgia offered me a full scholarship, (Newell) told me take it and I wouldn’t regret going there,”
Welch said.
He wanted to attend a west coast or a southern school so he could throw outdoors all year.
The technically sound and powerfully-built Welch has steadily improved since qualifying for state as a
sophomore when he won the discus and was 14th in the shot.
“He’s worked very hard in the weight room and he spends a lot of time working on his technique, not just
throwing,” Eastwood coach Gary White said. “A lot of kids get caught up in distances and he doesn’t.
“The biggest thing (Georgia will) do with him is put more weight on him and get him to be even stronger
than he is now. The extra weight will give him the ability to throw farther. He’s really maxing out his
abilities right now. In order for him to throw farther, he has to get bigger.”
Welch still has plenty of accomplish, preventing him from becoming satisfied. His goal is to win state in
the discus and the shot put, and set state and state-meet records in both.
In the discus, the state record and the state-meet record of 203-7 was set in 1999 by Fostoria’s Cory
In the shot, both records are held by Sandusky Perkins’ Matthew Hoty. Hoty set the state-meet record of
62-1?4 in 2008 and the state record of 64-81?4 this year.
The 18-year-old also is striving to break the national high school record in the hammer of 263-0.
And Welch’s long-term goals include winning at least one NCAA championship and competing in the Olympics.
He hopes to take part in the 2012 Olympic trials.
He’s currently lifting weights three times a week and throwing twice a week in preparation for the indoor
season which begins in January.
“I have to stay focused and continue working hard, make the right choices, and I have to work on the
little things with my technique,” Welch said.

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