Colts Neck High School senior thrower Cole Tucker is a well-known name in the track and field community around the United States.
Tucker, the 2021 Shore Conference indoor track and field shot put champion, did not just win the event on March 27 in Toms River with a personal best throw of 65 feet, 4 inches; he recorded the best mark of any high school thrower in the nation during the indoor season.
“I was really excited when I heard the distance,” Tucker said this week. “It was over a 2-foot personal best on the season, so it kind of came out of nowhere, but I still knew I could throw that far. It was very exciting. To be the top (thrower) in the country is wild.”
Winning his first Shore Conference individual title is a prime example of how far Tucker has come in his journey to becoming one of the best shot put throwers in America.
As a freshman, Tucker’s best throw was 27 feet.
As a sophomore, Tucker, who is a resident of Colts Neck, reached 50 feet at the outdoor Monmouth County Freshman and Sophomore Championships.
During his sophomore campaign, Tucker began to believe he has a bright future in the event and he started to train with Jon Kalnas, who was an All-American shot put thrower at Monmouth University.
Tucker trained with Kalnas in neighboring Tinton Falls and learned several techniques from the two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, including the spin that would help him throw farther.
Tucker’s work with Kalnas became evident during last year’s indoor track and field season. Tucker set a school record in the shot put with a throw of 57 feet, 5 inches at the NJSIAA Group III Championships.
“He is a great coach,” Tucker said about Kalnas. “He has helped me out a lot. He knows what he’s talking about.”
When the 2020 outdoor season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tucker continued to train on his own and with Kalnas as much as he could. The work made Tucker feel optimistic about what he could accomplish during the 2021 indoor season.
A throw of almost 63 feet during the first meet of the indoor season on Feb. 23 gave Tucker the confidence that he could reach the mid-60’s by the end of a season that was shortened by the ongoing pandemic.
That was exactly the case a month later when Tucker went beyond 65 feet to win the Shore Conference title.
Now, buoyed by his performance during the indoor season, Tucker said he is setting a goal to throw 70 feet and to a win a state title in the shot put. He also competes in the discuss for the Cougars and has set a goal to throw 200 feet.
“We have had student-athletes in the past throw in the 140’s in the discus and right around 50 feet in the shot put, but nothing to this level of competition,” said Dennis Bruck, who coaches Colts Neck’s throwers.
“It’s a joy to see Cole in practice. He’s a sponge and he wants to make everyone around him better. He’s a leader not just because of how far he can throw, but because of the person he is,” Bruck said.
Tucker, who is planning to attend Boston University, is hoping to conclude his high school career on a successful note and to enjoy his senior spring season after missing out on his junior spring season during the onset of the pandemic.
“I just want to have a lot of fun and enjoy it,” Tucker said of the 2021 spring campaign. “That’s a big thing. I also want to go undefeated in the shot put in every meet this season.”