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Knoch's Geist claims 3rd PIAA shot put title, falls just short of own state meet record

Chris Harlan
| Friday, May 26, 2017, 11:09 p.m.
Knoch's Jordan Geist competes in the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Geist won the gold medal in the event with a throw of 71-4.5.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Knoch's Jordan Geist competes in the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Geist won the gold medal in the event with a throw of 71-4.5.
Baldwin's Dave Johnston competes in the boys Class AA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Baldwin's Dave Johnston competes in the boys Class AA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Burrell's Elizabeth Weimer prepares to compete in the girls Class AA discus at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Burrell's Elizabeth Weimer prepares to compete in the girls Class AA discus at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Freeport's Sidney Shemanski competes in the girls Class AA 800-meter run at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Freeport's Sidney Shemanski competes in the girls Class AA 800-meter run at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Knoch's Jordan Geist prepares for the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Geist won the gold medal in the event with a throw of 71-4.5.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Knoch's Jordan Geist prepares for the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Geist won the gold medal in the event with a throw of 71-4.5.
Freeport's Robert Reichenbaugh competes in the boys Class AA 800-meter run at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Freeport's Robert Reichenbaugh competes in the boys Class AA 800-meter run at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Burrell's Elizabeth Weimer competes in the girls Class AA discus at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Burrell's Elizabeth Weimer competes in the girls Class AA discus at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Hempfield's Gabby Holmberg competes in the girls Class AAA triple jump at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Holmberg won the bronze medal in the event with a school record jump of 38-8.50.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Gabby Holmberg competes in the girls Class AAA triple jump at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Holmberg won the bronze medal in the event with a school record jump of 38-8.50.
Derry's Kara McDonald competes in the girls Class AA discus at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Derry's Kara McDonald competes in the girls Class AA discus at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Hempfield's Samantha Orie competes in the girls Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Orie won the bronze medal in the event with a throw of 42-2.75.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Samantha Orie competes in the girls Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Orie won the bronze medal in the event with a throw of 42-2.75.
Hempfield pole vaulters Hayden Fox (left) and Zach Sattiaux look over vaults with coach Melissa White while they compete in the boys Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield pole vaulters Hayden Fox (left) and Zach Sattiaux look over vaults with coach Melissa White while they compete in the boys Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Hempfield's Samantha Orie competes in the girl's Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Orie won the bronze medal in the event with a throw of 42-2.75.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Samantha Orie competes in the girl's Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Orie won the bronze medal in the event with a throw of 42-2.75.
Penn-Trafford's Nick Wagner sprints to the finish line while competing in the preliminaries of the boys Class AAA 800-meter run at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Nick Wagner sprints to the finish line while competing in the preliminaries of the boys Class AAA 800-meter run at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Knoch's Jordan Geist competes in the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Geist won the gold medal in the event with a throw of 71-4.5.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Knoch's Jordan Geist competes in the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Geist won the gold medal in the event with a throw of 71-4.5.
Hempfield's Gabby Holmberg competes in the girls Class AAA triple jump at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Holmberg won the bronze medal in the event with a school record jump of 38-8.50.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Gabby Holmberg competes in the girls Class AAA triple jump at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Holmberg won the bronze medal in the event with a school record jump of 38-8.50.
Knoch's Jordan Geist prepares for the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Geist won the gold medal in the event with a throw of 71-4.5.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Knoch's Jordan Geist prepares for the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017. Geist won the gold medal in the event with a throw of 71-4.5.
Laurel Highlands pole vaulter Cassandra Phelan competes in the girls Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Laurel Highlands pole vaulter Cassandra Phelan competes in the girls Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Hempfield's Alex Murray competes in the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Alex Murray competes in the boys Class AAA shot put at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Laurel Highlands pole vaulter Cassandra Phelan competes in the girls Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Laurel Highlands pole vaulter Cassandra Phelan competes in the girls Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Mt. Pleasant's Keith Kalp competes in the boys Class AA javelin at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Mt. Pleasant's Keith Kalp competes in the boys Class AA javelin at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Hempfield pole vaulter Zach Sattiaux competes in the boys Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield pole vaulter Zach Sattiaux competes in the boys Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Hempfield's Molly DeBone competes in the girls Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Molly DeBone competes in the girls Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Greensburg Central Catholic's Mikayla Bisignani competes in the girls Class AA discus at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Greensburg Central Catholic's Mikayla Bisignani competes in the girls Class AA discus at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Hempfield's Molly DeBone competes in the girl's Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Molly DeBone competes in the girl's Class AAA pole vault at the PIAA track and field individual championships at Shippensburg University on Friday, May 26, 2017.

SHIPPENSBURG — Heel to toe, one foot in front of the other, Jordan Geist measured his final shot put toss with his steps.

He counted 76 feet.

The overflow crowd around him had cheered in jubilation a few minutes earlier when his shot soared past the 70-foot line, beyond the state championship record he'd set here last year. But then they groaned when a meet official rightly red flagged him for a foul.

“Everybody got up on their feet, it was a lot of fun,” he said. “Unfortunately, I couldn't save it.”

Yet, before he took his slow walk, the crowd applauded again, this time in appreciation. Geist cemented his legacy Friday as one of the state's all-time great high school throwers when he won the PIAA Class AAA shot put title for the third year in a row with a distance of 71-4½.

But the Arizona recruit wished he could have let the crowd celebrate a little more.

“He feels he's letting all these people down (by not breaking his own record),” said Geist's mother Judy, a former All-American thrower at Slippery Rock University, who's also his coach. “He didn't.”

After Geist finished his walk, the two hugged, each teary eyed.

“It was definitely emotional,” Geist said, “especially once she started crying. I started to cry too. It's special though, just to sit back and think about the bond we've created over the last four years.”

Because of Geist, the small sections of metal stands were filled, but fans also lined the fencing several deep at Seth Grove Stadium.

He's certain to draw another crowd Saturday when he tries to become a three-time state discus champion and break that PIAA championship record, even if the winner is never in doubt. Geist's closest shot put competitor, North Poconos senior Matt Slagus, reached 59-8½.

After five throws that Geist considered technically flawed, he let loose on his sixth.

“I finally just settled down, got in the zone and hit better positions,” Geist said. “But I watched it and stepped out the front of the circle, otherwise it would have been a good throw.”

Geist walked off the distance because PIAA judges don't measure fouls and wouldn't make an exception — not even for the best in state history.

Here a year ago, Geist broke the PIAA championship record with a personal-best 74-3½.

“I just wanted him to hit it one last time, but it wasn't in the cards,” his mother, Judy, said. “He's a work in progress, and little by little he's getting better. He's doing what he needs to peak at the right time, which is going to be nationals. He has to trust the process. We all have to trust it. But emotionally, it's just hard to watch.”

Geist has trained differently this year than last, trying to peak later in the season. He has aimed for mid-June, when he will compete at the New Balance Nationals and later try to qualify for one of two national teams.

A year ago, he peaked at the state championships but faltered in the national meets. Choosing to stay patient has proven difficult, he said.

“I know I want to be throwing further, but I can't be throwing further now because we're focusing toward nationals,” he said. “The frustration is real, but hopefully we can take it out on discus.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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