Sports

Humble beginning breeds champion

Margo Britton hopes to add to shot put honors in the team’s final A-10 season.

Margo Britton’s throwing career began in a high school gym class.

“I was actually in a lifting competition in gym class my freshman year and I was lifting more than the guys,” Britton said. “My teacher asked if I ever considered throwing. I said I wasn’t too good at aiming, but the track coach came to me and got me started.”

A high school freshman girl outperforming every male counterpart in a lifting competition will tend to raise eyebrows, and it made way for the York, Pa., native to begin a new career.

Looking back on starring in those co-ed lifting competitions, Britton couldn’t help but crack a smile.

“They were used to it,” Britton said jokingly.

It took a lifting competition and one very ticked off bunch of adolescent males to do it, but Britton unknowingly embarked on a new era in her life when she decided to join the Dallastown Area High School track & field team as a shot putter and discus thrower.

The Temple sophomore and reigning indoor and outdoor Atlantic 10 Conference shot put champion needed time and practice when first learning how to heave a shot and discus in high school and didn’t experience any such success until her junior year.

“When you first start throwing it’s like, ‘Here’s the shot put, go throw it,’” Britton said. “When you get older, they really start teaching you technique and how to really throw it.”

While Britton began picking things up in her junior year, it wasn’t until her senior year when she experienced state-wide success in the shot put, placing third in the PA Indoor State Championship and later taking the top prize, winning outdoor states.

Despite several NCAA Division I programs scrambling to recruit the Dallastown throwing prospect in the midst of her newfound success, it was Britton who sought out Temple coach Eric Mobley about possibly earning a place on the women’s track & field team.

“My junior year everything just sort of clicked and senior year I started throwing really well,” Britton said. “I didn’t think I was even good enough to be considered a college athlete until then. But I had already been accepted to Temple and I got third in indoor states senior year, and I talked to [Temple head coach Eric Mobley] and told him I was 6 feet tall and I could throw this much and I got third in indoor states, and he said ‘When can you come visit?’”

“She called over the summer before school started,” Mobley said. “Then she came up for a visit and fell in love with the school and the place and we said, ‘Come on.’”

After working with former Temple throwing coach Jeff Pflaumbaum her rookie year, Britton’s career marks in shot put and discus jumped to 51 feet, 5.5 inches (15.71 meters) and 162 feet, 3 inches (49.46m), respectively. She took top honors in both the indoor and outdoor A-10 Championships in the shot put, qualified for the NCAA Regional Championship and was awarded the A-10 Rookie of the Year award.

When asked if she expected the immediate success, Britton let out a laugh.

“No way,” Britton said. “That’s why I say Pflaumbaum was probably the most influential coach I’ve ever had, because he took me to another level. There’s a difference from being a good high school athlete and a good college athlete. Yeah, I was state champion in high school. But when you get here, everyone was a state champion.

“I left high school throwing at 44’4” and I ended my freshman year [at Temple] throwing 51’6”,” Britton added. “I credit that to my lifting regimen and [Pflaumbaum’s] keen eye because he tore me down and built me back up again.”

Despite winning the 2012 indoor A-10 shot put championship, a slew of injuries in the course of the past few months has overshadowed Britton’s season. The injury issues seemed to hit a pinnacle when Britton sprained both ankles in a routine exercise at the University of Texas on March 28, the day before she was set to compete in the Texas Relays.

“I went to [the University of Texas] two weeks ago,” Britton said. “I was doing a hurdle mobility drill the day before I was supposed to throw. At first, I sprained my left ankle and then I tried it again and I sprained my right ankle even more. I do it all the time in practice and for some reason that day it just didn’t work.”

“She’s a very good athlete, but she’s also very passionate,” volunteer throwing coach Jayne Goodbody said. “We went to the [Texas Relays] a few weeks ago and she ended up having some ankle trouble. She threw in the discus and didn’t throw as well as she wanted it to. But she wanted to keep throwing in the shot, so she threw through the pain and made it to the finals.”

In her first outdoor meet of the season, Britton won the shot put and placed second at the Miami Alumni Invite on Saturday, April 13.

Britton will be going for her fourth and final A-10 championship May 4-5, and will also attempt to take home her first gold at the Penn Relays April 25-27.

“I think many athletes feel pressure to do what they’ve done the meet before or even the year before and there’s a lot of pressure for me to do well at [the A-10 Championship] just for my team’s sake,” Britton said. “They count on me to get points for shot put and discus and when it comes to the conference meet, it doesn’t matter to me how far I throw as long as I win and get those points.”

Andrew Parent can be reached at andrew.parent@temple.edu or on Twitter @daParent93.

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