As the Ithaca College winter sports teams have resumed the second half of their seasons in the new year, many of them have seen stellar performances from stand-out athletes. Notably on that list is senior thrower Justin Showstead of the men’s track and field team.
On Jan. 28, Showstead set a new program record in the shot put at the Nazareth Conference Challenge Cup by 2.5” with a throw of 15.39 meters, or 50’ 6”. The previous record had not been broken since 1983.
Even in his earlier meets this season, Showstead continued to top the leaderboards, earning first place in the shot put at 15.15 meters (49’ 8.5”) to win by nearly three feet and running-up in the weight throw with a top mark of 15.78 meters (51’ 9.25”) at the college’s quad meet Jan. 21.
Following the completion of this interview, Showstead proceeded to take first place and reset his own school record in the shot put with a throw of 15.67 meters, or 51’ 5”, at the Bomber Invitational on Feb. 4.
Assistant sports editor Tess Ferguson spoke with Showstead about his individual accolades and his progression through his career in throwing events.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tess Ferguson: Can you walk me through how you got involved with field events, throwing in particular?
Justin Showstead: I actually started in high school. I started out as a sprinter, but I was that kid who would pretend to tie his shoes during the laps. I switched to throwing my freshman year [of high school] and I just kind of stuck with it heading into college.
TF: As a senior this year, how do you think you’ve seen yourself change as an athlete from your first year to now?
JS: I’ve definitely been trying to be more positive and relax a little bit more because I used to be super hard on myself when I didn’t do as well as I would’ve wanted to. Now, I feel like I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can because you only have so much eligibility and I’m kind of on the tail-end of that.
TF: Do you think that positive mindset has helped your performance at all?
JS: Knowing that I’m almost done definitely adds a little bit of pressure, but being more positive has definitely helped with that. With the field events, you’re kind of on an island by yourself. Our mental performance coach has been helping us with this, but you have minutes in between each throw where all you can do is think about how your next throw is going to go. Trying not to care as much and stay[ing] more positive has been really important.
TF: How has it been having mental performance coaches work with your team?
JS: They really just give us tips and do little drills to simulate competition anxiety and help us work on that. We’ve done some breathing drills and stuff like that which has actually worked out pretty well for me. It’s really cool.
TF: I know track and field is pretty individual in nature, but many of the athletes on your team have had really successful seasons so far. What are some of your goals as a group?
JS: Honestly, just trying to send as many people to Nationals as possible and trying to reclaim our Liberty League title because we couldn’t defend that last year. We’re kind of a smaller team this year, so I think a large part of those performances is attributed to our voices being heard, being a loud team and cheering and supporting each other.
TF: As a senior on the team, how has it been taking on a leadership role in your events?
JS: I try to be as much of a leader as I can. I’m not really one of those guys who [are] really vocal, but I definitely try to do my thing from the back and lead by example. We don’t have any [first-year students], but we do have an athlete who’s never thrown before, so we’re always working together and progressing together. It’s gone really smoothly this whole year.
TF: As for yourself, what kind of expectations do you have in terms of your individual performance for the rest of the season?
JS: Honestly, I feel like it can only go up from here. I’m right there in the top 20 to qualify for Nationals, and every personal best that I throw now will be a new school record so I’m really looking forward to that.
TF: That, of course, leads me to the question of the day. How does it feel for you to have broken a 40-year standing program record?
JS: I mean, it feels pretty good. I came up just about a centimeter short of the record last year, and it’s even better because the rest of my throws were all pretty terrible that day. Having that one throw that was just far enough to push the record was some pretty good redemption.
TF: And now that you’ve checked that off of your list, what’s next for you this season?
JS: I’d like to just qualify for Nationals in both of the events that I do indoors, but we’re still working on that. We’ve always got some work to do.