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Pemberton takes his best shot

COLUMBUS — It was a day of firsts for Ironton senior John Paul Pemberton.

The Fighting Tigers senior accomplished his goal Friday on his first throw as he won the Division II state shot put championship at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

“I wanted to be the first thrower from Ironton to win the state. I was the first thrower at Ironton to throw over 50 feet in more than 20 years,” Pemberton said.

Not only did Pemberton throw more than 50 feet and win the state, he did it with another first by breaking his own school record with a best-ever heave of 56-6 and one-quarter inch.

“I thought it would be close. I thought it would come down to inches,” Pemberton said.

The runner-up was Jeremiah Folger of Salem who threw 55-10 in the finals. Jeff Spikes of Painesville Harvey threw 55-8.75 to take third place.

“I knew he could do it. This is the result of four years of hard work. We knew he had a chance. He’s been getting a PR (personal record) the last four weeks,” Ironton coach Greg Cronacher said.

Pemberton finished fifth in the state meet last season when he threw the shot put 53-7 and one-quarter inch.

Ironton throwing coach John Pemberton, John Paul’s father, said the final meet was the culmination of a plan that began in the seventh grade.

“I told him he was going to learn the spin to throw the shot. I told him it didn’t matter if he ever won a meet, he was going to learn the technique and then just get better,” coach Pemberton said.

John Paul got better, especially during the tournament. He won the district, regional, and state meets and each time his distance improved.

“It was just getting my foot work down and using my speed drills,” said Pemberton. “It was just getting everything down.”

Pemberton had everything down on his first throw as he popped what would be the eventual winning distance.

“I knew when I got it out there early I had a chance, but I knew there were some good guys in the next flight,” Pemberton said who had a better throw but fouled. “I had one out there at 58 feet, but I couldn’t save it.”

After catching his breath and getting congratulations, Pemberton smiled.

“It feels great. I’m getting chills,” Pemberton said.