Bradley Harunkiewicz’s biggest obstacle in the shot put circle is himself.
“I can get in my own head before a competition,” the Wareham High senior said. “The only thing that can stop me from throwing my best is myself. I overthink it. I just overthink everything.”
Harunkiewicz has also put plenty of thought into his future on and off the track — rightfully so — before ultimately decided on the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he will study environmental science and throw the shot put.
“It was the right fit for me,” the 17-year-old said. “I wanted a bigger school that offered a good program for my academics. They happened to be a D1 school, which I wanted for my track career.”
The Minutemen, who compete in the Atlantic 10, finished fifth in the team standings at the conference championship last month at the University of Rhode Island.
“It’s a great program,” he said. “They have weight coaches. They seem really into throwing.”
Harunkiewicz, who first started throwing as a freshman, has benefited from having a throwing coach at Wareham the past two years.
“When you have someone there being able to see stuff, that’s a huge help,” said Wareham track coach Chris Gardner of having throw coach Fred Kaulbfliesch work with Harunkiewicz since the 2016-17 winter season.
Gardner also credited Harunkiewicz’s work ethic for his steady progress from a 30-foot thrower as a freshman to 50-plus feet as a senior.
“He got bigger and stronger and he really got into it so you figured there was a possibility he could do well in the collegiate level,” Gardner said. “He made huge strides going into his junior year. He owns a shot put so he can do it at home. His work ethic has really helped him along.”
Harunkiewicz is looking forward to taking his event to the next level after breaking Wareham’s 44-year shot put record last week with a throw of 54-feet, 2.5 inches to earn ninth-place at the Emerging Elite Foot Locker Nationals meet in New York.
“It’s been a goal since I starting throwing my freshman year. I was ecstatic because that’s what I’ve been working for my entire career,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a big jump, obviously, but it’s manageable.”
Harunkiewicz said he’s made little tweaks to his form that have made all the difference.
“It’s focusing on the little things,” he said.
The focus entering the Emerging Elites was the placement of his thumb.
“It finally clicked for him,” Gardner said. “He felt good about that during the last few days of practice leading up to Nationals.”
Harunkiewicz is constantly trying to find ways to add distance to his throws as he turns his attention to breaking the Wareham’s outdoor shot put (56-4) and discus (170-4) records.
“I thought it was cool,” he said of going head-to-head with other elite athletes. “I wanted to get that experience. I wanted to see how others throw. I want to keep learning more. I love the sport.
If he writes his name in the Wareham record book three times before his career is over, what's next? The UMass school record of 55 feet in outdoor, set by Edwin Arcaro in 1971, and 56-11.5 in indoor, set by Vic Morency in 2000. (The weight of the shots themselves jumps from 12 pounds in high school to 16 in college).
Follow Laurie Los on Twitter @LaurieLosSCT