By John Goralski
When Matt Bennett first tried his hand at the shot put, he was struggling to clear 20 feet in competition. When he clawed his way into the postseason in his first season, it seemed like the end of an impossible dream.
But Bennett was just getting started. On Monday, Feb. 17, the Southington thrower beat all but one opponent on the state’s biggest stage.
Bennett was one of two shot put throwers to clear 50 feet at the State Open championship. He was the only Blue Knight to reach the final state contest, Edit
and he’s the only one that will advance to the New England competition.
“He’s done such a great job of representing Southing-ton this year, and he isn’t finished,” said Groom. “It’s not just because of how far he throws the shot put. It’s becuase he’s really taken the bull by the horn. He’s done everything that he’s needed to do. He’s set goals and met them or surpassed them.”
With snow delays and changing start times, it wasn’t Bennett’s best competition. In fact, his seed throw was longer than the actual winning throw, but Bennett will have one more chance at redemption at the New England championships in Boston on March 1. He might even get a chance to compete at the national meet.
“I think he’s going to get another personal record,” said Groom. “He wants it so bad, and once he gets determined like that I know that he’ll be doing everything that he needs to do.”
Bennett is already the winter record holder at the school (52’4.5”). He’s still got a ways to go to catch Frazier Pehmoeller for the outdoor title (60’10”), but don’t count him out.
He’s gone from 20 feet to 50 feet in a few years. What’s another 8 feet?
“This shows that if you’re determined, you do the work in the off-season, and your goals are high, it can be done,” said Groom. “It shows that not everybody’s great at something right away, but if you do the work you can be.”