Geist honored with parade in Saxonburg after winning Pan-Am Junior gold
There's only two reasons Main Street in Saxonburg is ever shut down: the annual fireman's carnival parade and a parade for their beloved champions.
Knoch graduate Jordan Geist is the latter.
Fresh off last Sunday's record-breaking shot put performance at the Pan-American Junior Championships in Lima, Peru, it was only fitting the PIAA and WPIAL champion and record holder came home to a Star-Spangled welcome, even if a parade and all the attention isn't really his style.
“It was a big surprise,” said Geist, who found out about the parade 30 minutes before he arrived at the airport. “It's shocking how much one person can bring together a whole town.”
With Main Street lined with American flags and the Knoch marching band leading the way, Geist, who will attend Arizona in the fall, was escorted by fire trucks and police cars as on-lookers waved to their champion. Decked out in Team USA gear, Geist used the American flag as a cape while sitting in the back of a blue Chevy Camaro. It's was fitting because at that moment, the 6-foot-2, 260-pound Geist was Saxonburg's superhero.
“I came out because I love Jordan and his family,” resident Linda Zilka said. “He's a great role model for the younger kids, and my son (Earnie) just started track this year for the first time, and he threw with him this year.
“He works hard, and he deserves what he gets. He's a good kid from a good family, and that's why I'm here to support him. It gives me chills every time I see that he succeeds. That a guy from Cabot is great and is probably going to be an Olympic champion.”
Geist blew away the field Sunday with a toss of 72 feet, 3 inches and set a Pan-Am Junior record. The throw was nearly 6 feet further than the runner-up. Geist's throw with the 13.2-pound shot broke John Maurin's record of 71-10 1⁄4 set in 2015.
“It was unbelievable seeing him wear USA on his chest for the first time,” said Jim Geist, Jordan's father. “He was the first thrower, in the first flight, and he just set the tone with a 70-foot throw, and we knew, right then and there, that it was his meet to lose.
“We knew that it was his day, and he kind of just pushed everybody from their normal routine.”
While Geist said the culture in Peru was similar the U.S., he added the facilities at Chan Chan Stadium were “amazing.” But there were times when there was no running water until the meet started.
“It was a great spectator arena, especially for track and field,” Geist said.
Geist competed against familiar adversaries, including second-place finisher Kevin Nedrick (66-8.75) of Jamaica and Adrian Piperi (66-5.75) of Texas, who finished third. The three throwers competed at the Penn Relays in April.
Holding every prep record in the shot put, Geist's next move is to Arizona, where his goal is not only to win an NCAA Division I championship but also to make a run at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“If I throw a personal record like I did indoors, I should be able to make the (Olympic) team,” Geist said. “Realistically, yes, but it will be a tough journey to get there (to the Olympics).”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.