University of Rhode Island sophomore Gregory McManus broke the URI javelin school record on April 2 on his first career throw in a Rhode Island uniform.
McManus, a redshirt freshman athletically and academic sophomore, broke the record at the Black & Gold Invitational at Bryant College in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
Jacob Keeling held the previous record back in 2012. McManus’s mark of 72.29 meters (237 feet, 2 inches) broke Keeling’s record by 13 feet.
A native of Howell, New Jersey, McManus was a multisport athlete in high school. He excelled on the baseball diamond during his childhood. “I used to play baseball,” McManus said. “Ever since I was six years old I was a centerfielder. I was known for my arm. Freshman year, I did not have a good year batting wise. My dad told me to try [javelin].”
Success in the javelin throw runs in McManus’s family. His uncle went to the University of Texas on a full ride for javelin and his dad threw for a year in college at what was formerly Trenton State and now the College of New Jersey.
It seemed like a no brainer for McManus to get involved with the javelin. His personal best in high school was 178 feet, good enough for college programs to start showing interest in his competing at the next level. However, after an injury in the weight room during his senior year of high school the road ahead seemed unclear. Despite missing his senior season, he still managed to commit to URI with plans to eventually continue his javelin career once healthy.
Just as McManus had begun to regain his health before the start of his freshman year in the summer of 2015, he suffered yet another blow. “I broke my hand in August of 2015,” McManus said. “I didn’t know it was broken until November of my freshman year.” McManus said that during fall practices in 2015, before getting his hand checked out, he was feeling good and throwing the javelin farther than he even had before.
“I was excited about it,” McManus said about practicing as a freshman. “Then, I finally got my hand checked out and needed surgery. The recovery took forever.” McManus mentioned how his hand will never fully be recovered, but he feels no limitations regarding physical activity other than some weight room exercises.
“It was a lot of mental work,” McManus said about recovering. “Whatever I could do I would do it. When [my] hand was busted all I did was legs. I would run the track, do squats, whatever it took to get stronger.”
McManus likes to keep his personal goals to himself. He is the type of athlete that focuses on what he has to do in order to get to where he wants to be. He said that he knew about the URI record, but just kept it in his head and continued to work for it.
Setting a school record is no easy task. It surprised a lot of people including McManus himself and URI Assistant Men’s Track and Field Coach, Rob Whitten. Whitten said he was watching one of the other events at Bryant while McManus was throwing. “Coach Ben Carroll, our throwing coach was out there and he texted me Greg broke the school record on his first throw,” Whitten recalled. “I thought you got to be kidding me, there is no way. Did they mis-measure it?”
Whitten expressed that McManus’s determination is what led to his success. “His hunger and determination, and having not had a chance to get out there and compete was itching at him,” Whitten said. “I think that showed. That excitement, that adrenalin, that extra emotion when you have been on the sideline for two-plus years and he got out there and just got after it.”
“It was shocking it was on the first throw,” McManus said. “But still I didn’t doubt myself about it.” McManus knew when he released the javelin it was going to be a big throw. “My previous personal best was 54 meter (178 feet) senior year. I saw the javelin go past the 60 -meter mark and it kept going and going and I was very excited.”
After the big throw McManus knew there was one person he wanted to tell the news to. “After that first throw, I just wanted to call my dad,” McManus said. “I called my dad immediately after my last throw.”
As the season progress, McManus’s mark will put him in a great place to compete in the NCAA’s eventually at the end of the regular season. However, for now his goals are to win the Atlantic 10 Championship and the New England Championship. “To sweep the outdoor championships is what we are focusing on as a team.”