COLUMBIA — As far as athletic achievements, Josh Harvey is probably best known as a football player. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound lineman on the Hickman football team has earned an scholarship to to play football at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio next fall.
But growing up, Harvey competed in many sports including basketball, baseball and track and field, and it is also easy to see him as an athlete. Especially if you consider his success as a shot-putter for the Kewpies.
“For a large individual, he is probably one of the best athletes I’ve seen,” Hickman throwing coach Chad Masters said. “He has amazing foot speed and agility and a lot of raw power. He is an extremely explosive athlete.”
Harvey’s track and field career began at Lange Middle School where he threw the shot in seventh grade.
“I did track in seventh grade and on of the first things suggested to me was the shot and discus,” Harvey said. “I just started doing it, and kept doing it.”
In middle school, Harvey set a goal to break of 45 feet and surpassed it by eighth grade. This season in high school competition, Harvey's throw of 58 feet, 1 inch at the Kirkwood Invite broke a longstanding meet record.
“I felt good at that meet because at Cap City I wasn't throwing my best," Harvey said. "I was just lolling into the season and then to come out at PR was really nice.”
This is a step in the right direction for Harvey, who placed third in state last year with a throw of 56-8 ½.
"I think I'll make it again," Harvey said, "but it will be more fun because I know the competition. I'm confident about my season thus far."
Masters says Harvey's progress as a shot-putter has been substantial.
“He started off in the upper 40s and lower 50s. He is really starting to climb and throw his best shots at this point,” Masters said.
Harvey’s success is especially noteworthy because he is self-taught. Hickman didn’t have a throwing coach until this season, so Harvey learned from other coaches and Youtube videos.
Practice and self-critiques helped Harvey in the days before Masters. Now, Masters watches as Harvey lines up on the throwers' ring time and again. He pushes his feet up against the toe block, takes a step back, balances the 10-pound shot put on his neck, and spins forward. Seconds later, the shot put is propelled forward.
Masters says Harvey does a good job of focusing on the little things. He is self-motivated after be self-taught for so long.
In the fall, Harvey's focus will return to football, but he says he plans to walk on to the Redhawks' track and field team and throw the shot for them next spring.
For now, Harvey is ready for his remaining track meets. Beyond Friday’s Jefferson City meet, there are districts, sectionals and state.
“His best days are ahead of him,” Masters said while Harvey waits to get back into the ring for more throws. “He is pretty passionate as far as throwing shots.”
“Just get into it, if you like it you like it, if you don’t, you don’t, it doesn't hurt to try,” Harvey said. “Every sport can benefit from doing track. It just makes you better in your other sports.”