SL throwers look for school records
SARANAC LAKE — Some of Saranac Lake’s school records in track and field have stood for years or even decades. However, a pair of student-athletes are gunning for records in the shot put and discus this year, even as one of the record holders coaches them.
Senior Jonathan Hewitt and junior Patrick Alberga have their eyes on the school records as they begin practice for the spring track and field season.
Hewitt is focusing on discus, and Alberga will be the team’s top shot putter, but each athlete will complete in both throwing events. One of the team’s coaches, Cy Ellsworth, is the current Saranac Lake record holder for shot put, having set the mark of 53 feet, 8.25 inches in 1990, while Mike Todd holds the discus record of 155-7, set in 1987. Ellsworth was nothing short of giddy when describing Hewitt and Alberga’s potential to top him.
“We’re really deep in the throws,” Ellsworth said. “We think we have the top discus thrower in the league, (and) we have the top shot putter in the league by several feet.
“Pat Alberga is the shot put guy, and he’s into the 50s (feet). He’s ranked eighth in the state. Jon is our discus thrower that should push for the school record; he’s going 140s now, and that’s in the snow.
“Pat’s going over 50, and he’s got a chance to push for my school record. He’s got to hit 55 (feet),” Ellsworth continued. “He’s got a shot at that. Both of them are going to be ranked in the top-10 in the state.”
Ellsworth said that at any other school, Hewitt would be the team’s top shot putter, and Alberga would be a leading discus thrower.
“Jon Hewitt is throwing 42-43 feet, which is pretty good,” he said. “He’d be the number one guy at any school. Except for here. Pat is a 125-130 discus thrower, and he’d be the number one guy at some other schools.”
Ellsworth added that his son, Mitchell, is throwing discus over 100 feet as well, but as an eighth-grader he’s still on modified because Hewitt and Alberga are so strong in their disciplines.
Hewitt said he’s been working on his throwing all preseason, in addition to strength training.
“Lots of repetition of throwing,” Hewitt said. “Coach said repetition is the best way to get better at throwing, so we’ve just been throwing, throwing, throwing since the start of practice.
“We’re doing weight lifting almost every day after practice to get stronger and better. I hope to be in the 150s by the time track ends. The school record’s 155 feet, and I’m only about 15 feet away from that, so I’d love to break it. I’m going to work my butt off as much as I can. Coach is letting me bring my own discus home so I can just practice in the field behind my house, and I’m just going to practice.”
Alberga, who competed for the Red Storm during the indoor track season over the winter, said he’s already improved since representing Saranac Lake at the state championships in March.
“It’s been looking good. I’ve improved by like five feet on my shot put from indoor, so I’m making progress,” he said. “Been doing a lot of weight lifting and reps.”
Although there is still a fair amount of snow on the ground, Alberga said they’ve been practicing both indoors and outdoors.
“We either throw inside or outside; we do some warm up throws and then we do five or six actual throws and then we go the weight room and do some explosive exercises,” he said. “I’ve been training for hurdles because I’m trying to do pentathlon again this year, but I feel like I might just be going for shot.
“I’m going for the record for shot again this year, but we’ll see how it goes. He’s (Ellsworth) been helping me a lot outside of practice. We’re probably going to do a little bit of throwing over spring break.
“He wants to see it beaten as much as I do.”
The Saranac Lake track and field team is set to open the season on Tuesday, April 23 with an away meet at Beekmantown.