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

Pehmoeller took the process seriously, interviewing the coaches as much as they were interviewing him. He settled upon UConn because they offered him a course of studies that held his interest, and the coaches stressed kinetic training rather than chemical shortcuts.

“One of the biggest concerns for me as a thrower was steroids,” he said. “Back then, they were so prevalent in the college realm, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with them. You really had to question coaches and feel them out because there was a lot of pressure if they took an athlete like me.”

It turned out to be a good decision. Pehmoeller went on to letter eight times with four years on the indoor and outdoor teams. He became one of the most versatile throwers in school history, competing in all four throwing events.

“I ended up being more of a jack-of-all-trades in college even though I wasn’t much of a javelin thrower in high school,” he said. “Basically, with the shot you don’t want to throw the javelin, but since I had some decent throws in high school, they ended up having me throw it in college. I remember being at a Big East championship in Villanova, and I threw the shot put, discus, hammer, and javelin.”

Along the way, Pehmoeller collected four Big East titles in the throws. In the training room, he set a school record in squats, and a record in the shot put that stood for more than a decade.

“I had a great coach in college, and he was a kinesiologist. He would say that an event like the shot put had about 5,000 things that you could do right or wrong on every single throw,” he said. “The goal was to do more things right than wrong. If you did that, you were a really good thrower.”

Pehmoeller didn’t quench his thirst for competition by the end of his NCAA career, but it was a couple of years later that he finally found a way to compete. His cousin told him about the Scottish Highland Games, and he packed his car for a road trip to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire.

“I had no idea what I was in for. I didn’t even know what kind of shoes to wear. I had never even seen it before,” he said. “I showed up and found out the first day was for professionals and the second day was for amateurs. I was there for the first day with a borrowed kilt from my secretary.”

In his first competition, Pehmoeller captured the stone throwing event, but he quickly learned that the other six events were more of a challenge. Slowly but surely, he began to rise in the rankings. By the mid-1990s, he was ranked fifth in the world.

Along the way, he set a new American record in the Sheaf toss, an event that requires a pitchfork to hurl a burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar. Then, he set the world record in the Strong Man walk (99 feet) that shattered the former record (80 feet). A few years later, he decided to retire.

“You were moving something like two tons of weight on any given day,” he said. “It used to take me two days to recover. Once it got to two weeks, I called it quits. I never had an injury, so I felt I was pretty lucky. The younger guys were coming up with sponsors like Power Bar. Here I was an executive doing this as a weekend warrior.”

That wasn’t the end for Pehmoeller. He had developed a knack for training athletes during his time with the Scottish Games, and it wasn’t long before he returned to high school track & field. He saw some safety concerns during his daughter’s competition, alerted the coaches, and was drawn into their ranks.

“It wasn’t like I got into coaching to try to make them good,” he said. “I just didn’t want any of them getting hit in the head. With all my years of throwing, I learned a lot about safety. I didn’t see any of that, so I got involved.”

Over the next six years, Pehmoeller’s throwers captured New York State titles in every season. Two of his athletes were nationally ranked. To satisfy his own need for competition, Pehmoeller entered the Empire State Games, and he earned a pair of gold medals in the discus competition. Lately, he’s been competing as a cyclist with his most recent escapade in Portland, Oregan where he competed in a six-day, 600 mile race.

With his long career that spanned high school, college, and beyond, it was no surprise that Pehmoeller was selected to represent the town in the Southington Sports Hall of Fame. On Thursday, Nov. 8, he will be inducted in a ceremony at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.

“It’s totally humbling,” he said. “So many people had a lot invested in me over the years. I’m sure everybody says it, but I really mean it. You can’t get to a point where you’re recognized like this without a lot of help and support from a lot of people.”

For tickets, contact Jim Verderame at (860) 628-7335.

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@southingtonobserver.com.

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