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Bishop has his record; now it's on to next goal

Deep down inside, Zeb Bishop knew all season long that he had the ability to be the best shot put thrower ever at Citrus High School.

Now everyone else knows it too.

Bishop, a senior who also throws the discus, broke a school record in the shot put during the April 17 Panther Invitational, throwing more than 50 feet.

Just one day earlier he also had thrown a record-breaking distance _ unfortunately, it was during practice. But that throw gave him added confidence going into what turned out to be his record-breaking meet.

"I knew I could do it, but I tried not to think about it because I didn't want to put a lot of pressure on myself," Bishop said. "I just wanted to get up there and throw."

It was on his second attempt that Bishop accomplished the goal he had set heading into this season. Bishop admits he knew it was a good throw immediately after it left his hand.

The throw looked and felt good, but looks can be deceiving. So Bishop waited for the official word. Finally, it came: 51-1{.

"I've been working on it for two years so it felt great _ like I had accomplished something huge," Bishop said. "It's what I've always wanted and now that I've gotten it, it's a relief off my back. Everybody on the team was pulling for me and all the coaches knew I could do it, so I felt good for all of them as well as for myself."

Bishop's mother, Elicia Kuhl, and his grandfather, Dan Drummond, were in the stands watching when the 17-year-old made school history. Kuhl said the second the distance was called out, she knew her son had finally gotten his record.

"It's hard to even put into words," Kuhl said about that moment. "I think what was most overwhelming was to see how much emotion came to him. It's something he's worked so hard for. We did some things over the summer to try to prepare him for his senior year, but we give God the glory for him to be able to have that kind of ability."

Bishop spent last summer competing in the Sunshine State Games and the Junior Olympics. It was the first time since he began participating in track that he actually did some throwing in the off-season.

Bishop earned first place at both the Sunshine State Games and the state Junior Olympics. He went on to compete in the national Junior Olympics in Baton Rouge, La., where he finished "somewhere in the middle of the group."

The experience of competing among some of the best throwers in the state and nation proved to be beneficial this season.

"It kept me focused and working on my technique," Bishop said. "I got to work on the things I was doing wrong and it helped me fine-tune some of those things."

Bishop joined the Citrus track team four years ago at the suggestion of a friend who also wanted to join the team but didn't want to go alone. Bishop had tried wrestling, but didn't like that sport very much.

When he first went out for the track team, he was 6 feet and 230 pounds. He said the coaches took one look at him and decided he wasn't going to be a sprinter, so over to the shot put and discus area he went.

"I loved it right from the beginning," said Bishop, now 6-4, 215. "It was fun."

Although he enjoyed the sport, he wasn't particularly good at it. Bishop said he figured he'd never be a superstar, but because he liked it so much, he decided not to quit.

"My freshman year I won one meet and that was the only meet I placed in," Bishop said. "I thought I'm not going to be any good, but I wanted to have something to do so I decided to keep doing it."

Turns out, that was an excellent decision.

As a freshman, his best throw was 36 feet. By his sophomore year, Bishop said he started to get a little more serious. His top throw that year was 44-3.

By last season, Bishop had changed his mind about himself. He started to believe that with hard work and determination, he could become a great thrower.

"I figured since I was doing good and God had blessed me with that talent, I decided I should try my hardest to be good at it," Bishop said.

So he set his goals for his final year: to break the school record and advance to state competition. Now he has just one goal left to accomplish.

Whether he reaches that goal is all up to him. And that's one of the main reasons he loves throwing.

"The thing I love about the sport is that if you mess up, you can't blame anybody," Bishop said. "But if you do well, nobody can take the credit but you. That's what I like most. And that's what keeps me in it."