When it comes to track and field, athletes are often trying to set or break their own personal record and, sometimes in doing so, they break records of other athletes. And that’s just what Weston Jeffries, senior track and field player for Fruitland High School did on April 1. His 56-foot, 3-inch shot-put throw resulted in breaking not only his own personal record, but a 23-year record held by Matt Ingebritsen, who is currently the head director and track coach for the Utah State Aggies and who had earned the record-holding title in 1998 with a 54-foot, 10-inch throw.
“I’ve had it on my radar since my freshman year,” Jeffries said in a phone interview on Monday afternoon.
It was during his sophomore year that he came close, with a 54-foot throw, he said. And while he wanted to break it during his junior year, the season was canceled.
“To come out early and break the record like I did is really exciting,” Jeffries said.
When asked whether he realized it was a record-breaking throw after he launched it, he said he knew it was a big throw but didn’t realize it was actually a record-breaker.
While Jeffries allowed the sense of satisfaction to settle in, he is already thinking about his next big move.
“At the same time, I know I can throw farther this year,” he said, emphasizing that he won’t forget about this record, but is ready to “move forward and break it again this season.”
‘We can come back tomorrow’
The 2020 track and field season “was canceled one day before the first meet last spring. We didn’t have a spring season, so it was a little different to get the proper training in last year,” Jeffries said.
However, he said he was able to stay fit for his senior year, in order to try and finish off strong in a sport he started playing in seventh grade. This included attending some private camps over the summer in Montana and Wyoming. As part of this, Jeffries did get to compete in one event: the Big Sky State Games in Billings, where he won first place for shot put and placed fourth in discus.
One sacrifice Jeffries had to make for his final year of high school was skipping out on wrestling in order to train for the spring track and field season this year. This training includes two 30-minute sessions each day, which rotate between focus areas, such as speed and agility, and heavier lifting. And since school started in the fall, he has been training with weight-lifting before school five days a week.
In addition to track and field, Jeffries has pursued many athletic endeavors throughout high school. This has included four years of football and two years of wrestling.
In middle school, his mother encouraged him to try shot put, as she threw in high school and college.
“After that, I fell in love with that sport,” Jeffries said.
As far as inspiration, he looks inward and to his team, he said.
“Every day I just have the mindset of ‘How far can I push myself to be the best version of myself?’”
And that carries over to practice, too, he said.
“When practice doesn’t go good, we can come back tomorrow and be better. That’s the thing I always focus on,” he said.
His teammates are his biggest inspiration because points earned from his events go toward the whole team and “that’s where I find enjoyment.”
Jeffries is heading to University of Idaho this fall to throw shot put and discuss for them, and will be able to participate in indoor and outdoor track and field, with it being his first time participating in the sport while inside. For a brief moment in 2020, track and field athletes in Fruitland were going to be doing some indoor competitions, but as with many other athletics, COVID-19 pulled the rug out from under there season. In college, his course of study will be agriculture business.
When asked how he got interested in ag, he mentioned his father who works in purchasing at the corporate office for D&B supply, and also FFA.
“I have always had an ag interest being in FFA,” he said, adding that the ag business degree will be fitting for him to pursue because it opens up more opportunities in agricultural fields.
He also is in the National Honor Society this year.
“Congratulations to Weston Jeffries for breaking our 23 year old school record in the shot put last night with a 56’3 put,” reads and email on Friday from Fruitland High School’s Track and Field coach Rena Sitz.
Jeffries’ advice to anyone considering the myriad sports in track and field is to go ahead.
“Don’t hesitate. Be open to try anything,” he said. “Before I started, I was telling myself I wouldn’t like it because I wanted to play baseball. Then I got into it and I kept getting better. It became a lot more fun.”
Jeffries said the thing about track and field events is that even though you are part of an overall team, athletes ultimately compete against themselves.
“Every time you go to a meet, you can go farther than the last time. It’s a good sport for anybody,” he said. “With a team you have a place, but at the same time, you compete against yourself and become the best version of yourself you can be.”