Prep track • Justin Pickard attends Treasure Mountain Junior High in Park City.
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Alone in the 7-foot circle with an 8-pound shot put pressed against his cheek, Justin Pickard waited to clear his head.
He already broke the indoor record at the second annual Viking Shot Put Challenge at BYU's indoor facility, defeating the other competitors by more than 10 feet, but the 13-year old had one final throw.
"I was waiting to clear my mind and go all out," Pickard said. "I wanted to get it out there as far as I could."
Using the advanced spin move, Pickard crouched and started his powerful rotation before releasing the shot. The shot traveled 41 feet, 10 inches to set an American indoor shot-put record in the Youth Division of USA Track and Field.
"He knew going in that he has a chance to break the record and blow the record out," strength coach Jason Bell said. "Justin thought he would be able to throw it 45 feet."
Pickard's life has revolved around throwing since moving to Park City from Washington two years ago. The eighth-grader at Treasure Mountain Junior High has been working out with the Park City track and field team to perfect his technique and build his body.
At 5 foot 10, 175 pounds, Pickard knows that making the 2020 Olympic team involves more than weight training and mastering his throw. It means having the mental strength to be a champion.
"It's all about the mental game I try not to psych myself out," he said. "I have the physical strength. I just need to make sure that my head stays strong through it all."
Pickard has been working out and perfecting his form by working with throwing coach Leif Arrhenius. Hours in the gym have given him a sizable advantage against his peers, and Pickard is looking forward to joining Park City High's track team next year.
"I think I can score as a freshman," he said. "If I can get over 42 feet, I know I can really help the team."
Arrhenius said Pickard has the rare talent and work ethic to be a state record holder and earn a college scholarship.
"He has a ton of potential," Arrhenius said. "The sky is the limit for the kid."
His throw of 41 feet, 10 inches broke the previous American Indoor junior record by 3 feet.
In addition to the shot put, Pickard throws the discus and plays lacrosse.