At the recent 8th East Coast Championship Meet last Saturday in Providence RI spectators would have thought that Michael Browning and Joseph Lanham were on the same team if it weren’t for the different uniforms as they competed in the Boys 25lb Weight Throw Championship event as they spurred each other on during the competition.
But both seniors are not on the same team, Browning competes for RHAM while Lanham competes for Coventry. Their camaraderie is contagious as the other state throwers also partake in the congratulations on each good throw and shared thoughts on throws that go awry. State finishers did very well in the meet as Browning placed 4th with a PR toss of 64’11.25”, Lanham was 6th with a mark of 61’6.75” while Nate Quaye of Manchester placed 7th (PR 59’10”) and Aaron Williams of Bloomfield was 12th (PR 56’5”).
Photo courtesy of Coach Bill Vanderrest
The Girls competition in the 20lb Weight throw featured a 5th place by Alliha Boothe of Bloomfield with a mark of 49’2.5” while Sophia Galluci of Coventry placed 10th with an effort of 44’3” and Leah Moore of Hillhouse finished 15th with a toss of 40’10”.
In the boy’s competition this season, both Browning and Lanham are chasing that elusive State Record of 69’7.25” set by Robert Guider of Danbury at the 2009 New England Weight Throw Championships.
With larger improvement in each meet this season both athletes have a shot at the record according to Coach Bill Vanderrest of Coventry who stated “Joe has been throwing for 4 years. Most college coaches will tell you It takes 4 years to get good at these events. Joe's experience and technique are what allows him to throw so far, and his dedication. Browning got into this later, which is why his technique can still improve so much. He is tall, strong, and fast, so the more he practices at this the better he is going to get. They have a chance because of their work ethic and their camaraderie. They are pushing each other right now and cheering for each other. It’s great to see. It’s a matter of good timing that they are both doing this at the same time.”
As for Browning’s ability in the event, Vanderrest stated ““I like Browning, he is a great kid, respectful, eager to learn, and willing to listen and work with anyone. Browning travels to practice with Country in Bloomfield for throwing. When I see him at meets, if Country isn't there Mike will come up to me looking for advice. All that being said, his technique has a long way to go, which is a good thing. He is fast and powerful, and that's how he gets the weight out so far. If he can get down his second turn, he could throw it another 5-10 feet! I think he has a real chance at it.”
As for his own pupil Lanham, Vanderrest said “Joe started throwing the hammer as a freshman. I had a really good group of seniors that were throwing when he was a freshman. He saw it and fell in love with it. The leadership of those seniors, and their work ethic, inspired Joe. As a sophomore we started the weight during the indoor season. It was the end of his sophomore season when he started visiting Paddy McGrath in New York. He has been training with Paddy ever since. It’s a great resource since I can only work with Joe during our seasons.”
While there are more meets offering the event during the Indoor season each athlete must be willing to travel in order to get the competition needed for continued success. Earlier this month Joe Lanham competed in the Milrose Games Trials for the Weight Throw and threw a PR 62'3.75" that earned him second place as well as qualified him for the Milrose Games on February 7 in New York.
They will both be throwing at The New England Weight Throw Championship, hosted by Providence Technical High School in Providence, RI with a date to be determined. Their last chance to overcome the State Record will be on Sunday, March 10, 2019 at the New Balance Nationals Indoor at The Armory in New York.