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