Soccer star Whitmer discovers his talent for shot put

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – When Kevin Hornbeak walked off the field after Whitmer’s loss to Marysville in the regional semifinals, he knew he didn’t want to end his high school career. With some time to kill before graduation, Hornbeak decided to try something new.

“I originally wanted to play baseball, but I ended up talking to Coach Keller (Whitmer’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach). We have this bond that we can talk about anything and he said to me, ‘You should go hunting. You are a very powerful person, I saw you on the field. You would be good.”

It only took a single throw to prove Coach Keller right.

“The very first throw was a power throw that had little to no form. And he threw it about 40 feet,” said Whitmer throwing coach Robby Edwards. “I threw for a while, and I threw over it a little bit, but the fact that he threw it standing up, I knew there was something special there.”

But Hornbeak, used to throwing footballs over forty yards, was less impressed.

“I thought that was kind of bad,” Hornbeak admitted, “but everyone’s like, oh my god, you can be good, so I stuck with it.”

Practice has made it almost perfect. Hornbeak has had all but two races won that season – he finished second in the TRAC Championship. His personal best at 54 feet 11 inches was a second-place finish at the Knight Relays on April 29.

“I got to the EMU meeting and I threw about 49[ft],” Hornbeak said, “I went up a good six feet and I was like, ‘I really have to stick with it.’ After that, I started seeing PRs and PRs, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I can be good.

Football’s competitive mindset carried over, laying a solid foundation for Hornbeak’s burgeoning shot put career.

“To see him compete when he’s put against the wall when kids are throwing further than him and to see him step up in the moment and those big PRs when we need it, that’s huge,” Edwards said.

Hornbeak acknowledged that’s how he views the competition, whether it’s on the griddle or in the circles. “I have this mentality that I want to win,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re 70 feet, I’ll try to hit you no matter what.”

He may not be able to throw the shot put as far as a soccer ball, but the sport, which he learned just two months ago, could take him further than he ever imagined.

“He came out unsure about throwing,” Edwards said. “Now we’re looking for college for him.”

“If it can get me into college, then so be it,” Hornbeak said. “I’ve just started, but I love this sport.”

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