SHIPPENSBURG – Somerset’s Nickolas Hyde felt as though he has been chasing his dream of a gold medal throughout his entire career.
On Friday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University, the Golden Eagles senior finally reached the top step of the podium. Hyde won the gold medal in the Class AAA shot put with a winning throw of 65 feet, 6.25 inches, a personal best for the Somerset thrower.
“Last year I was second, the year before I think I took 17th,” said Hyde, who will compete in discus on Saturday. “In my freshman year, I competed in discus, and I think that I finished dead last, to be honest.
“I’ve been living in the shadows of Jordan Geist (of Knoch) my first two years and then last year John Eakin (of Bradford).
“Now I am finally on the top.”
Hyde, who had many members of his family in attendance for the big moment, was so flustered after the victory that he actually told reporters that he had thrown 65-5.25, slighting himself the extra inch.
“When I hit the big throw, it came off of my hand perfectly and I almost fouled because I was jumping up in the air,” Hyde said. “I saw my foot come down and I thought ‘Oh no, I have to get out of here’. ”
Coming in as the top seed on Friday, Hyde admitted that the pressure got to him slightly during the competition.
“Whenever I started my last throw, my legs actually started to shake from the nerves,” Hyde said. “(Being on the podium), tt was overwhelming with all these people out there (in the stands). It was a great experience.”
Hyde, who is headed to St. Francis University to compete for the Red Flash, finished fourth at the Penn Relays and had a personal-best throw in the District 6 championships, knocking Greater Johnstown’s Robert Wyatt out of the record book. Hyde’s throw of 61-1 topped Wyatt’s heave of 58-7 that had stood since 1966, the oldest record in the district.
The Golden Eagle started throwing in seventh grade as a complement to weight training and felt that Friday was the perfect cap for his high school shot put career, although he still plans to compete at a national meet the end of June down in Greensboro, N.C.
“The competition was great,” Hyde said. “They all came out and drove me and made me want to push and do better. It all came together at the right time.”