Southington’s strongest man; Frazer Pehmoeller started with the shot put and finished with a stone

By John Goralski

Sports Writer

The thunder from 30,000 cheering fans seemed to fade into white noise as Frazer Pehmholler took his first step across the New Hampshire field. His arms strained from the 670-pound load that hung from his clenched fists. His vision narrowed to his eldest daughter in the distance as she waved him toward his goal.

The first step was for the doctors that helped him overcome a debilitating bone disease in his youth. The second was for his Southington coaches that nursed him back to health at Memorial Pool. He took a steps for his high school teammates, his college teammates, his parents, his friends, and his daughters, but the last one he took for the world.

It was one small step for mankind, but it was a giant step for Pehmoeller. With a 99-foot walk, the boy that spent two years on crutches in elementary school had walked into a new world record at the Scottish Highland Games.

For a brief moment in the mid-1990s, Pehmoeller was the strongest man on earth.

“If I knew that I was that close to 100,” he said with a laugh, “I would have probably broken a finger trying to make it there.”

Few athletes are as accomplished or as relatively unknown as Frazer Pehmoeller. He holds the two oldest track & field records at the high school, but it’s only been a couple of years that his records were displayed in the high school cafeteria. His records at the junior high schools have been long lost in the decades since the 1970s. His indoor track records at the high school still eclipse the record holders by feet rather than inches, but his exploits aren’t official since they predate the official varsity team.

He set town records in discus and shot put. He set college records at UConn and set world records in the Scottish Highland Games. Pehmoeller is in a class of his own.

“He is the best kid ever,” said former Blue Knight track & field coach Pete Sepko. “He is a really nice human being. He’s a gentleman, and I’ve always been really proud of him as a kid and with what he did. It didn’t come easy. He was such a hard worker, and he’s the best thrower we’ve ever had.”

Pehmoeller never set out to topple records. In fact, sports weren’t a big part of his youth. Stricken by a rare bone marrow condition in his youth, he spent his time recuperating while his friends were honing their skills in local youth leagues. When he tried out for the junior high teams Pehmoeller didn’t make the cut, but he didn’t let that stop him.

“I actually tried out for the baseball team but that didn’t go too successfully,” he said. “Then, I saw these big guys running around the old football field at DePaolo, and I figured I might as well try what they were doing. I had no idea what a shot put was or a discus or anything.”

At the time, Southington was already known for their throwers with Dean and Danny Angels setting records at the high school while Pehmoeller was chasing their records in the junior high. They were approaching the 60-foot barrier, and Pehmoeller was closing in.

By the time he arrived at the high school, Pehmoeller was ready to challenge their standards.

“I just got through a good group of throwers that were throwing 58’8” and 57’7”,” said Sepko. “I remember thinking, ‘How am I going to top that?’ In through the door walks Frazer Pehmoeller, and he threw 60 feet within two or three years of them.”

Few athletes trained as hard as he did. Pehmoeller’s practices stretched until sunset. He spent the off-season in the gym and running sprints on the track. As a sophomore, he caught the shot put competition by surprise with a second place finish in the state competition. That was the start of his dominance in the sport.

“We worked out a lot together in the weight room, and he kept getting better,” said Sepko. “Every year he got stronger, and he got faster. A lot of people think that you just have to be strong to throw that far, but you have to be fast, too. He always took pride in bringing down his 50 yard dash time. He came down every year. He wasn’t just getting stronger. He was getting faster.”

As a senior, Pehmoeller finally broke through. He snapped the 60-foot barrier in the shot put. He shattered the school records in shot put (60’10”) and discus (175’3”). When the smoke cleared, he had earned two state titles in shot put and one in discus. Suddenly, scouts from across the college ranks descended upon the Southington native.

“It was pretty cool. I grew up in a family where my grandfather, my father, and even my brothers were electrical contractors, so there was a path set for me in the electrical business,” he said. “What throwing allowed me to do is be the black sheep and go out to do what I wanted to do.”

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