East Xtra: Hempfield senior goes to the max

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Take a look at Max Adams and his 6-foot-2, 245-pound frame, and it's difficult to imagine him competing in the long jump or triple jump.

But that's exactly what Adams envisioned himself doing when he began competing in track and field in seventh grade.

"I used to be skinny and tall, but I've packed on a couple of pounds," Adams said.

He's packed on quite a few gold medals, too.

Adams, a senior at Hempfield Area High School who long ago outgrew jumping events and soon after became a thrower, picked up the fourth and fifth WPIAL gold medals of his career by winning the discus and shot put titles at the Class AAA championships last Thursday at Baldwin High School.

On a rainy day which Adams called the most miserable conditions in which he had ever competed, Adams traded in his drenched uniform and wet shoes for a pair of gold medals.

"The biggest challenge was staying positive," Adams said. "I had to keep [the discus and shot put] dry and keep warm. ... I actually brought an extra pair of shoes. That saved my life in the discus."

Adams said he was surprised he did so well in the discus, considering the weather, but it's really no surprise that he came out on top. It marked the third year in a row he won the title. The shot put title was his second, the other coming his sophomore year.

Hempfield coach Ron Colland said he didn't get a chance to watch Adams throw, but the steady, day-long rain didn't slow down word getting back to him about Adams' accomplishments.

"I was pretty much in the stands getting drenched," said Colland, who is in his 33rd season as head coach. "I did hear from our throwing coach, Dave Murray, about how Max did in the discus and shot. We were pretty impressed considering the weather conditions. He's been very capable for four years, especially in the discus."

Adams, who finished second in the discus at the WPIAL championships his freshman season, was able to "three-peat" as champion courtesy of a throw of 186 feet, 11 inches. The heave easily topped his next-closest competitor, Canon-McMillan's Alex Rideout, who threw 159-8. Adams' throw wasn't far off his personal and school record of 192 feet he recorded at the Baldwin Invitational earlier in the month.

The fact that he "doubled" his senior season is a big deal to Adams, who did the same as a sophomore but was limited to one gold medal last season after finishing sixth in the shot put.

"It meant a lot to me," Adams said. "Last year was a fluke season. I hate to say that, but I didn't perform anywhere near where I needed to. It meant a lot to come back from that and win [both medals this season]."

Adams is an excellent athlete who will attend Wake Forest on a track and field scholarship. He was a mainstay on the offensive and defensive lines for the Hempfield Spartans football team the past few seasons.

Colland called Adams one of the best throwers Hempfield has had. In addition to holding the school record in the discus, Adams is closing in on the shot put record, which he said currently stands at 63-3. Adams' top mark in the shot put is 61-1.

Although Adams has regularly found himself at the top of the medal stand at the WPIAL championships, he has yet to win gold at the PIAA championships. That's not to say he hasn't been close. He finished fourth in the discus in both his freshman and junior seasons, and placed fourth in the shot put his sophomore season.

Adams will get one final chance at gold this Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University. He is seeded No. 1 in the discus and No. 4 in the shot put.

"Realistically, I'm hoping to win both," Adams said. "I'm hoping to have a good [personal record] in the shot put. Hopefully, I'll come close to the school record in the shot put. If I have a good day in the discus, hopefully I'll break the state record (202-10)."

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