LUCASVILLE — Simply put, Justin Moore has thrown far —so he can go far.
As in away from home from Valley High School, and joining the throwers for the Boston University Terriers —of which he will continue his athletic and academic careers.
That’s because Moore, in an official signing ceremony last Wednesday at Valley High School, made it official by putting pen to paper —and announcing his intention to compete in track and field for the NCAA Division I program, located of course in Boston.
Moore was flanked at his signing by his parents, Travis and Neva Prater; sister Brook Moore; Valley High School track and field head coach Jason Fell; Valley High School Athletic Director Darren Crabtree, his throws coach Rusty Smith; and several family members, teammates and friends.
A two-time all-Ohioan in the boys shot put at the Division III state track and field meet, and Valley High School’s record holder in that event at 58 feet and six and one-half inches, Moore said Boston University is in “its own little area of the big city”.
“You never really have to leave the college campus,” said Moore.
As for what made Moore decide upon Boston University, and landing in the Northeast, it all began with his second appearance at the state meet in June —which took place at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
It ended with an on-the-spot offer when Moore visited the BU campus —and talked with throws coach Grant Cartwright.
“The Boston coach reached out to me last year and he wanted to come down and watch me at the state meet. He did that, we hit it off, he flew me up to Boston, then he offered me right there and then,” said Moore. “I verbally committed right there. He (Cartwright) is a new coach, but he is a very good coach.”
Cartwright is actually only in his second season at Boston, as he is also an Ohio native —from Powell in suburban Columbus.
Speaking of Columbus, and its suburbs, that’s where Moore has finished his first two track and field seasons for the Indians —and on the awards podium.
As a sophomore, when the Division III boys state meet took place at Westerville North High School, Moore made eighth —with a best throw of six of 51 and 3 1/4.
He had no freshman season, as that spring sports year was unfortunately canceled by the Ohio High School Athletic Association — because of the coronavirus threat.
But the six-foot four-inch Moore, in an interview following late May’s Region 11 shot put championship, said last season (2021) was all about upper-body strength and muscling throws for scores —whereas this past campaign (2022) has been all about actual form.
Moore made good with the Southeast District Division III championship and a toss of 54 feet and one inch, then captured the regional title — with THEN a Valley school record and a personal-best throw of 58-3.
He picked up where he left off in the regional, and wasted no time with his first prelims throw — going for his 58-6 1/2.
His other two tosses in the prelims were for 56 feet and four and one-half inches followed by a foul —as he also fouled on his middle finals throw, sandwiched between 56 feet and seven-and-a-half inches and 57-1.
He completed the prelims in fifth, and remained that way with the competition’s conclusion in the heat of the afternoon.
Individuals with the top nine throws by distance do advance to the finals, where all nine receive three more throws with the prelim scores carrying over —with the top eight distances in fact punching a ticket to the awards stand.
The top eight placers in each event at the state meet earn team points, and individually amass all-Ohio accolades.
“He’s (Moore) worked extremely hard for all the accomplishments and accolades he’s earned so far. He has tremendous support from his family. They’ve been totally supportive in what he has wanted to do, in terms of getting better throwing,” said Fell. “There’s no reason he can’t go over 60 feet this year (in shot put). That should put him up there right near the top.”
Neva Prater is actually one of the Indians’ assistants, and his parents have taken him to various campus throughout the state — and even country.
For Moore, he met his goal of returning to the state meet —and moving up the platform placings by three spots.
“It all means a lot, but I couldn’t have done it without my parents, and just the work ethic they have instilled me. It’s been hard, because there’s been ups and downs and injuries and all that, but I am very thankful that I’ve made it this far,” he said. “I’ve worked hard in what I’ve wanted to do in my life for this to come true.”
Moore is also a two-time Division III regional qualifier in the discus throw — and said he plans to throw the shot, disc and hammer at Boston.
He’s never thrown the hammer before, but of course it isn’t offered in Ohio at the high school level.
“The hammer will be completely new to me,” he said.
The shot put goes from 12 to 16 pounds from high school to college, the discus from only one-and-a-half pounds to two, and the hammer is a 16-pound ball.
But he excels most in the shot, and has goals to get over 60 feet —while qualifying also for the state meet in the discus.
His desired distance in that is 170 feet, and —of course —he has lofty expectations of winning the state championship, in the shot put at least.
As for the here and now in November, Moore said he was “very relieved” his signing is officially behind him — as he can focus for a third and final successful spring.
Indeed, Moore has thrown far —to go far to Boston University.
“To see him develop from where he was as a freshman into a full-grown man that’s earned a scholarship to go throw at a very nice university tells you a lot about his work ethic and desire,” said Crabtree, who coached Moore in football for three seasons. “You’ve seen the last two years him competing in shot and discus, he just keeps getting better. He has meant so much to our school, representing us at meets in such a positive light. These things for him are some things he will never forget.”