Don Bosco Prep senior Connor Mathis enters his senior spring season as the NJ#1 returner in the shot put, 59-08.25, and the NJ#8 returner in the discus, 157-11. We don't get to see the Wake Forest bound star during the winter track and field season as he plays basketball instead.
After jumping to a from a 2017 PR of 53-05 to a 59-08.25 in 2018 and finishing seventh at the Meet of Champions Mathis has a renewed focus and higher goal set for his senior campaign. At the end of winter, right off a basketball season, he threw 55-07.5 in his first experience competing indoors at New Balance Nationals Indoor shooting him up to NJ#8 on the season.
Find out his thoughts on choosing a different sport during the winter, the confidence from the quality of his first indoor mark, what it means for his goals as one of the top returning throwers in the state.
First off, how was your basketball season?
A: Basketball season was fantastic and a lot of fun. We had a lot to live up to after making it to the TOC finals two years in a row. We graduated a lot of talent which meant the seniors had to step up and work hard. We worked our tails off the entire season with many impressive victories over some of NJ's best teams.
Unfortunately, several of our players (myself included) faced injury at critical parts of the season which caused some changes for our team as a whole. We made it to the State Sectional semifinals falling to Bergen Catholic. Final record was 20-7. I am going to miss basketball for sure.
How long have you been playing basketball versus competing in track and field? Was the decision ever very hard to make during the winter season between the two?
A: My entire life I have been playing multiple sports including track, basketball, baseball, soccer and football. A difficult decision I made my sophomore year was to continue with just basketball and track for high school. I felt I would succeed best if I gave up football in the fall to play basketball and track. I never competed in winter track before so I never really thought about it going into high school.
I started thinking about winter track in the beginning of senior year, however, I love my basketball team and the friendships I have made throughout the years. I could not give up basketball. It ended up being a hard decision knowing I would miss out on being successful in winter track which also provides great preparation for spring track throughout high school.
Get any throwing in during the winter months? How well does your training for basketball carry over for the throws? I saw you were able to get your first taste of indoor track and field at New Balance Nationals Indoor, 55-07.5 ranks you NJ#8, how was that experience and was that planned far in advance as a tune up for outdoors?
A: I tried my best to get some throws and lifts in during winter specifically on the weekends. However my basketball training was very intense, and time consuming. I do feel that my basketball training easily transfers over to track. Basketball is extremely rigorous on the body so I become well prepared for track. Also, it helps with the quick feet needed for shot and disc.
Indoor nationals was something I always wanted to experience and when I found I could qualify with my mark from last year I was pumped. New Balance Nationals Indoor was actually my first time throwing for the season as my basketball season had just ended only days before. The competitive environment at the Armory has gotten me really excited, which is definitely beneficial for me heading into the spring season. Big meets are coming soon!
You were already the NJ#1 returner in the shot put from last spring, but being able to hit a mark like that coming right off a basketball season... does that help your confidence entering this spring? How is training going so far now that you are fully focused on the spring season?
A: Hitting a mark like that without much training definitely boosts my confidence for the spring season. I know that I have a lot more left in me and I'm ready to throw some PRs. So far training has been great. I am working much harder than I have ever worked in my career especially knowing that I have a lot to live up to being NJ's #1 returner. I'm starting to take my training to a new level.
NJ#1 shot put returner with your 59-08.25 from the Meet of Champions, NJ#8 in the discus at 157-11, and you even won the Group E 110m hurdles at Bergen County last year. What are your goals entering the spring? Is there a specific motivation this year to inspire your training?
A: My #1 goal is to make it out on top when the Meet of Champions swings by. To be a state champion in the best state in the country within one of the most competitive track states in country would be a dream. Being a champ in both disc and shot would be the ultimate dream.
When it comes to hurdling I am not quite sure if I'm going to have time to continue as my throw specific training has really intensified this year. All my life I have had to run from event to event which is somewhat of a distraction when trying to fine tune things between throws. We'll see how it goes, I really do enjoy hurdling.
Congratulations on your Wake Forest University signing, what made that school stand out from the rest for you?
A: I visited many colleges and spoke with many different coaches along the way. I took five official visits: Wake, Virginia, West Point, Cornell and Brown. Each college offered great academic opportunity paired with fantastic throwing programs and coaches. It was a very difficult decision for me as a young man to make.
However, in the end I chose Wake Forest because the campus size was perfect, I really enjoyed the business classes I was able to attend, and the team and coaching staff were amazing. Most importantly, it's a high academic school in which I will look forward to being challenged every day.