Photo by Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
When Dacula's Robert Harvey threw the shot put more than 55 feet during practice last week, he got a little encouragement from his biggest competition.
"There you go," teammate Eli Mahaley said.
Normally, Mahaley is out-throwing Harvey, but a week before the boys state track meet it's Harvey that's having the good day.
A few throws later, Mahaley had his biggest toss of the hour-long practice session. Harvey extended out his hand to congratulate his teammate with a big grin on his face.
It's some of the best competition either of them will face all season. Mahaley pushing Harvey in the shot put and Harvey challenging Mahaley in the discus.
"They both have a passion for it. They want to excel," Dacula throwing coach David Machovec said. "I've been doing this for over 20 years and that's the kids you want, the kids that want to do it. That are committed and dedicated to it and have a strong desire to get better."
The duo plan to fuel off that competition at this week's boys track and field state meet where Mahaley and Harvey are two of the top throwers in the state in shot put and discus.
"Basically, we try to keep the competition between us and try to keep the others out," Mahaley said.
That's what they did at the Region 8-AAAAA meet to qualify for state. Mahaley won both events and Harvey was second. They enter this week's state meet as the No. 2 and 3 ranked throwers in the shot put and Mahaley has the top discus throw in the state. They are both serious contenders for state medals and a 1-2 sweep in both events is even possible.
"Could they go 1-2 at state like they did in region? There's a chance, but we want them to do the best they can do," Machovec said. "If that's third and fourth, and God forbid that happens, then it happens. Then it means 1-2 threw off the record and brought their A-plus game."
Mahaley is the more accomplished of the two throwers. He began throwing as a freshman and his experience allows him to use more advanced technique in the throwing circle.
He won the county title in the shot put and was second in the discus. His throw of 164 feet in the discus is still the top mark in Class AAAAA this season.
"He has more technique than me and he yells a little louder," Harvey said. "He works just as hard as me."
Harvey has been throwing for two years and it wasn't until the Florida Relays after the county meet that he began to put up big numbers. He won the meet with a toss of 57 feet, 83/4 inches, which is still the second-best throw in Class AAAAA this season.
"He has the advantage (in the shot put) with these things called wings," said Mahaley, grabbing Harvey's long arm.
Mahaley and Harvey's competitive nature goes back to their football days. The duo played defensive line on the Falcons' playoff team last season and were two of the top defenders in the county. Mahaley was a Daily Post all-county selection and both played in the county all-star game.
It's not uncommon to hear a little playful trash talk towards each other. Things like 'You can't out-throw me.' or 'The pretty girls come watch me throw, you get the ugly ones.' are just some of the things they like to say to each other.
As for who is going to do better at state? Well, you can imagine controversy that stirred.
"I'm hoping to win AAAAA discus and hopefully win shot, but Robert is pretty close on my tail," Mahaley said.
Harvey quickly interjects with a laugh of disbelief.
"I think I'm gonna win shot and come up behind him on discus," Harvey said.
"Like we said, we keep the competition between us and keep everyone out and hopefully we can take 1-2 and 1-2 again."