Staff Photo: John Bohn John Patterson is a discus thrower with the Parkview High School track team. Patterson is three feet short of breaking the Parkview school record for the discus throw.
In 1980, Parkview's Kelly Taylor set the school record in the discus throw. The Lilburn school was in just its fourth year of existence, so the record didn't hold a lot of merit at the time.
More than 30 years later, the mark still stands -- at least for now.
Parkview junior John Patterson has emerged as one of county's top throwers and is closing in on the 33-year-old mark.
"He's really going after that school record," Parkview assistant coach Larry Satchwell said.
Patterson's pursuit of the school record came earlier this season when he threw 151 feet, 1 inch at a meet.
"After I hit 150 at the first meet, I was like 'that's a really good throw,'" Patterson said. "Coach had been bothering me about and said I better go check it (out). I looked and it was 166 and I was like 'Alright, that's one of the goals for the season.'"
The magic number held by Taylor is 166-9. It's a mark that's very obtainable for Patterson, who has tossed 163-7 this season.
"I'm just happy I've been closer to getting the school record," Patterson said.
Patterson has come a long way as a thrower in three years. He grew up playing football and wants to play it one day in college. As a linebacker, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder was second on the team in tackles with 107, had four sacks and one interception last season.
He found his way to the track thanks to head football coach Cecil Flowe, who encouraged him to join the team as a freshman improve his speed and footwork. Patterson had marginal success that initial season, throwing in the low 100s.
"Freshman year was kind of rough getting into it," Patterson said.
Patterson had a decent sophomore campaign, qualifying for the state sectional. It wasn't until that sectional meet at Tift County that he had his best throw.
"He broke out. It was one of the slickest, fastest, worst circles I had ever seen," Satchwell said. "I thought for sure he was going to foul three throws. He pulled through and had a really good throw."
Patterson's throw of 152-8 was his best of the year and qualified him for the state meet.
"I remember when I threw it, I looked at (Satchwell) and he said it was a good throw," Patterson said. "They measured it and I was excited."
Patterson placed eighth at the state meet last year, but is now in position to do some damage at the state meet.
"He had one good throw last year towards the end of the season and I think that got him a little on fire and he could realize how good he could be," Satchwell said.
Patterson won the Gwinnett County championship last month and his personal record of 163-7 is the fourth-best in the state this year and No. 1 in Class AAAAAA.
"I'm throwing with confidence," Patterson said.
That may not be a good thing for head coach Matt Henson, who has a friendly wager with Patterson. The two made a bet last year if he Patterson broke 150-feet he could wear Henson's coaching hat. He did and the two are going for double or nothing this year. If Patterson breaks the school record, he gets to wear the coveted Orange fisherman-style hat.
"I think he'll break the school record," Satchwell said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see him go 170 or 175."
Patterson only has three meets left this season, beginning with the Region 8-AAAAAA championship later this week. If he were to break the school record in the next few weeks it would come at a good time and possibly a state championship to go with it.
"He's been there, done that and has the T-shirt to prove it (at state)," Satchwell said. "He's trying to breakout this year."
THE PATTERSON FILE
Who: John Patterson
Sport: Track and field and football
Dream job: Travel the world
Favorite sports team: Dallas Cowboys
Favorite athlete: Brian UrlacherNoteworthy:
-- Placed eighth at state meet in discus throw last year
-- Holds a personal record of 163 feet, 7 inches
-- Won Gwinnett County championship in discus throw
-- Maintains 3.5 GPA
-- Second on the football team in tackles last year with 107, had four sacks and one interception
-- Bench presses 320 pounds