Knoch thrower Josh Rohland hoping for big numbers as postseason approaches

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Sunday, April 18, 2021 | 5:18 PM


Knoch’s Josh Rohland got his first taste of WPIAL track and field championship competition as a sophomore at the 2019 Class AAA meet at Slippery Rock.

Throwing the discus, he finished 16th with a throw of 123 feet, 8 inches.

The trip to WPIALs was a building block for Rohland, who picked up the throwing implements, including the shot put, for the first time in eighth grade.

Despite not having last season amidst the growing covid pandemic, Rohland remained in the throwing circle with the desire to improve.

Now a senior Rohland is in line to make his mark among the WPIAL’s in the shot put and discus.

“I really love competing against these guys I know,” said Rohland, who noted Plum senior Logan Parker, Hempfield senior Dan Norris and Kiski Area junior C.J. Hepler among those in the top group of throwers in WPIAL Class AAA.

“I’ve competed against some of them since freshman year. They are really nice guys, so that helps make it fun. That competition really drives me.”

Promising results in early practices last spring gave Rohland high hopes, but those hopes were dashed when the PIAA suspended the spring seasons and ultimately canceled them over the growing covid concerns.

But Rohland kept working through the summer and into the fall, gaining additional instruction from club coach Ryan Protzman, an assistant at Westminster. He also tested his mettle against some of the region’s top throwers at July’s Rose Invitational at New Castle High School.

In the most recent indoor season, he traveled to meets at Hempfield, Youngstown State and Ohio’s Spire Institute. He recorded season-bests of 53-3 in the shot and 59-5 in the weight throw.

“Having last year’s outdoor season taken away was a big disappointment, so being able to compete as much as I did during the indoor season was really exciting,” Rohland said. “I needed it. It was good to get back in the circle and feel that competition.”

He joined a select national group, which included Norris and Parker, at Adidas Indoor Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va., in late February. He threw 51-2 3/4 in the shot.

“Indoor really helps a lot because you get your technique down early,” Rohland said. “(Outdoor) track is a really compact season, so you are not trying to cram so much into two months.”

Rohland said he is pleased with the way the spring has gone. He picked up a pair of first-place finishes — 147-1 in the discus and 52-1 in the shot — April 10 at the eight-team Butler County Classic.

Rohland then threw the discus a personal-best 150-7 in a dual meet Thursday at Mars.

“I felt really good,” Rohland said of his Thursday discus throw. “I had one in warm-ups that went around 160. I am getting close to my technique to where it needs to be. I am excited for the next month to month and a half with both the discus and shot.”

Rohland is third all-time in the shot put at Knoch. Jordan Geist, who has gone on to achieve success in college at Arizona and internationally, has a lock on No. 1 at just over 74 feet. Current Slippery Rock senior Brennan McTighe, who placed fifth in the shot at WPIALs as a senior in 2016, is No. 2 at close to 55 feet.

Rohland hit 50 feet in the shot for the first time last summer.

“I am working through some technical things in the shot, but I feel I made a breakthrough in practice (Friday),” said Rohland, who, at times, has been called a mini Jordan Geist because of a similar appearance and competing in the same throwing events.

“My spin is getting better. I still have a lot to work on. I can’t slack off. I have to put in the work if I want to get to states. That’s my goal.”

A month remains until WPIALs, set for May 19 at Slippery Rock. The PIAA championships are May 29 at Shippensburg.

Before those two big events, Rohland will go after top results in remaining dual meets as well as at invitationals at Butler (Friday), Mars (April 30) and Baldwin (May 7).

Rohland admits he watches results of his top competition.

Rohland had his eyes on Friday’s Wildcat Invite at Latrobe where Parker and Norris finished at the top of the standings in the shot and discus.

Parker won the shot with a top distance of 54-5, and Norris was second. Norris returned the favor in the discus with a winning toss of 175-5 to Parker’s second-place throw of 157-2.

Rohland also is set post high school as he will throw in college at Slippery Rock.

The track program and also the program for physical therapy at the school, Rohland said, made it a perfect all-around fit for him.

“Josh is such a dedicated, self-driven thrower,” said Randy Armagost, Knoch’s throwing coach since 2012. “He worked out a lot on his own and with (Protzman) to get better, and you can see that improvement every day.

He also watches videos on YouTube of the top throwers to see their technique. He concentrates so much on fine-tuning things.

“He’s looking for more nice weather to help make things click even more.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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