Throwing Big

Feb. 16, 2010

by Matt Winkeljohn, Managing Editor
OSR Sting EXTRA

ATLANTA – Back in the day in Green Bay, Wisc. where dad worked on boilers for a living, everybody grilled brats before Packers games, the winters cooked souls, and dinner hour was more a five-minute scramble for life than an hour of anything, Steve Marcelle toughened up.

He didn’t have much choice, really.

“Oh definitely. One of my friends called it, `Hungry, hungry hippo… grab until it’s gone,’ ” Georgia Tech’s senior thrower said in recalling meals at home as the fifth of six children.

Mr. Marcelle is a big fella, which is typical of most throwers. He has super strong grabbers, and is a bit calcified around the edges.

If you didn’t know before what a “thrower” is, one glimpse of him at work would set you straight. The young man puts a shot, and hurls a discus. These are considered throwing acts in the sports of track & field.

These things he does well, owning school records in the indoor and outdoor shot put for the Yellow Jackets (63 feet, 5 inches for a personal best) with an ACC title to show for his shot work and a runner-up finish in the discus. He’s qualified for the NCAA meet three years running.

The jobs seem to fit the dude.

A guy goes 6-feet-6, 290 pounds and grows up in the Great White North, and well, if he’s not blocking or tackling, then he needs to be doing something that leaves a mark – like the dark smudge on his neck (where he tucks the shot before putting; a temporary blemish acquired in the heat of action).

Those little pieces of stuff scattered around his lower legs (sometimes grass, other times cinder depending on the nature of landing area with which he’s working)… it’s all part of the deal.

So how does one get to be a shot putter, and/or a discus thrower?

Marcelle played football and basketball in high school, and as is often the custom in his part of the country, he was a track man. Or to be specific, he was a field hand. In the land of leftover Vikings and Norsemen, he picked up a local habit years prior to high school.

“My brother threw shot, and in Green Bay they have track units in school. I never knew what a shot was and then I went and I won my gym class,” he said. “That was as a sixth grader, and I started track in seventh grade.”

To say it went well from there would be understatement. You win two state titles and set a state record in the shot put and win a state title in the discus in a place like Wisconsin and you’re doing more than passing time.

You are flat-out throwing! It’s no wonder, then, that Tech, “recruited me pretty heavily,” as Marcelle said.

Since redshirting for a year to get up to speed, Marcelle has been a steady performer for the Jackets, winning ACC outdoor field performer of the year as a junior when he was the top shot put athlete in the conference and No. 2 in the discus.

His best shot put effort of 63 feet, 5 inches is a school record.

For a guy who’s so very good at what he does, there may yet be great room for growth in Mr. Marcelle on the “field,” and in the laboratory of life.

He won the shot put Saturday at the Tiger Paw Invitational in the third of Tech’s four visits to Clemson with an effort of 59 feet, 4.25 inches. A solid spring season is under way. Yet the son of a boiler mechanic who, “basically saved Proctor & Gamble a ton of money,” with his work, and a school attendance office attendant finds himself searching for answers even with graduation just months away.

There are still answers out there; it’s not all grunting and groaning.

“I guess there can be a lot to improve,” Marcelle said. “My technique is not the greatest. I have a lot of power. I try to stay on my right leg, and pretty much coming out of the back [of the throwing circle], I try to stay real low and level, and I just try to stay into my right leg into the strike. I have a problem striking too early. I’m impatient, really putting on my right leg. I have a lot of energy problems.”

Believe it or not, that all makes sense to somebody if not you.

A business management degree awaits in May. He’ll figure out what to do with it one day.”I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet,” he said. “I’m sorting that out.”

Meantime, Marcelle keeps studying, and hitting all the standard Olympic lifts. “Clean and snatch; squat and bench are pretty important. The overhead lifts, since you’re throwing the shot up, are important… so the incline bench.”

And this much he knows: “I want to take top three at the nationals.”

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