By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Josh Gum found the perfect time for the perfect throw.
The Central senior struggled for much of the season, but put it all together Saturday and went out on top with a school record throw in the discus at the Group 3A state track and field meet at Harrisonburg High School.
"It's definitely the best way I could have thought to went out," Gum said on Wednesday afternoon. "Knowing that I didn't make it in shot put, I came out and threw a PR at states. Even to throw as good as I normally do at states is enough, but to throw a PR at states is definitely a good way to go out."
Gum had a throw of 156 feet in the discus to capture second place in the state meet, earning him The Northern Virginia Daily's Male Athlete of the Week for the week of June 2-June 8.
Gum said his footwork was really off throughout the season in both the discus and shot put, which caused him to not throw as well as he would have liked all season long.
"My footwork was off even in shot put, but I finally figured out my problem in discus two days before the state meet," Gum said. "It finally clicked, and I started being consistent with it. It worked out."
Gum said there were times this season when he wanted to quit, but Central throws coach Mike Yew helped him a lot to stick with it and get back on track.
"Coach Yew really just pulled me aside and we just had to figure things out," Gum said. "He's been behind me this whole year. He never gave up on me, and that really helped a lot. He's a great coach. He never gave up on me when I was throwing bad, and even when I wanted to quit he was there and wouldn't let me do it."
Gum said he threw a 160 in warm-ups and knew he was feeling good on Saturday. Then on his second throw he threw the 155.
"When I threw it, I knew it came off just right," Gum said. "My last throw was a 151 and it didn't have any height on it. If I got a little more height on it that would have definitely been the one to win, too."
Gum broke the school record, which was set earlier this year by teammate Travis Cooper at 151 feet, 10 inches. Cooper finished third in the state meet.
Gum said it helps having a teammate there to push you to get better.
"In practice when you have two throwers that are pretty much exactly the same, even if you're not doing a throw-off in practice, you see the kid that's supposed to be the same as you throw a little bit better than you and it pushes you to throw that much further the next time," Gum said.
The combo of Gum and Cooper helped the Falcons finish 10th in the boys state meet. Central finished with 22 points with only Gum, Cooper and hurdler Justin Bauserman representing the school at the meet.
"It's amazing. Me and Travis came in second and third. Justin didn't do as well as he planned in the 300s, but I saw teams out there with thirty males coming off that bus," Gum said. "The fact that we had three guys, and we placed 10th in the state with three guys just shows that we had a really concentrated amount of talent. Having three people and to finish 10th with all those teams there -- that was definitely nice."
Gum finished fifth last year in the discus, and his second-place finish Saturday was the highest of his career.
Gum said that putting his name in Central's record books in his final meet was the perfect way to end his career.
"It's an amazing honor to think about all the excellent athletes that have come through here, like Warren Brill and even coach Yew, and all those before, just knowing that I threw further than they did is just an amazing feeling," Gum said. " It's a dream come true."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd