Leechburg thrower Bret Kardos has lofty goals for shot put

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019 | 7:57 PM


Bret Kardos is on a mission.

The Leechburg senior hopes to become the first track and field athlete in the five-year history of the Blue Devils program to qualify for the PIAA championships.

Kardos, No. 1 this week in the Class AA boys shot put on the WPIAL performance list at 48 feet, 6 inches, also has his sights set on a WPIAL championship May 16 at Slippery Rock.

“It’s pretty exciting to be where I am right now,” said Kardos, who was among athletes from the seven Section 7-AA boys and girls track and field teams competing at Wednesday’s Allegheny Interscholastic Conference championships at Freeport.

“My shot has really come along this season. I know I have to perform against the best in the WPIAL. I want to show everyone what I am about.”

Kardos was in a battle Wednesday with Deer Lakes senior Maxx Hammond. They led the pack of shot putters, and Hammond edged Kardos, 42-1 to 41-6½.

“(Hammond) is good,” Kardos said. “It wasn’t my best day, but I will learn from it.”

Kardos established his WPIAL-best shot-put mark April 15 at Burrell in less-than-ideal weather conditions.

“It was raining and cold that day, and I don’t know how I pulled that off,” Kardos said. “I just tried to block everything out and just throw my best. It just came down to making sure I got all the mud off (the shot) after each throw to make it as dry as possible.”

Said Blue Devils throwing coach Mark Jones: “Bret did what is called the glide, where you start facing backwards from the sector and glide to the throw. He just popped it. He was pretty happy with the throw initially. I don’t think he knew what he had until they stuck the measuring tape on it and heard what the distance was.”

Kardos also hopes to become the fourth Leechburg athlete to earn a WPIAL medal. Mackenzie Fello was eighth in the 100-meter dash last year, Maddie Ancosky placed seventh in the 200 in 2017 and Carlee George took eighth in the 400 in both ’16 and ’17.

“Bret has learned how to get his hips open and be very explosive with his throws,” Jones said. “He’s found that combination and is doing very well. He’s definitely worked hard on his form and technique. You could be the strongest guy around, but if your form and technique aren’t good, it doesn’t matter.”

Kardos also threw the discus at the AIC meet, and he came in fifth. His season best of 112-0 came at the Burrell meet and against Freeport two weeks ago.

He will add the javelin to his throwing plans May 3 at the Pine-Richland Invitational. His season best in the javelin of 132 feet came in a section meet against Apollo-Ridge.

“I always tell him before he competes to not think about it too much and just throw,” Jones said. “If you think about it too much you can get too mechanical and lose that thrust and momentum generated by being aggressive. Bret goes in there and goes after it. It’s like being a golfer with that old saying, ‘Grip it and rip it.’ ”

Wednesday was a busy day for Kardos as he also finalized his decision to play football and compete in track and field at Saint Vincent.

“The (football) program at Saint Vincent is strong, and it’s a good fit for me,” said Kardos, a versatile player for the Blue Devils who will start his college career at linebacker.

Kardos led the Leechburg defense in tackles in 2018.

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

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