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Spearing a record
North graduate excels in javelin
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Forsyth County News

Jerel Langley has recently put college behind him, but the North Forsyth graduate left his mark before leaving Gardner-Webb University, a Division I school in western North Carolina.

Langley, 22, won his third straight Atlantic Sun conference championship in the javelin at the league's track and field championships in May at Clemson, S.C.

"It really was kind of expected," Langley said of his third title. "Really, what I came in there hoping to do was break the conference record."

He was also successful on that front, and it happened right out of the gate with a throw just topping the league's all-time mark of 203 feet, 4 inches.

"I came out on my first throw and barely, by a couple of centimeters, passed it, so I was really excited about that one," Langley said.

From there, Langley set out to put his own record a little more out of reach. By the end of the event, he had topped out at 210 feet, 11 inches — 7 1/2 feet clear of the old record.

The javelin might not have seemed the most obvious choice for Langley when he entered college. He had no experience with the event in high school, and originally competed in the heptathlon, a combination of seven events including the javelin.

But Langley eventually drifted toward the javelin, in part due to the influence of his brother Josh,  an assistant coach with Clemson's track and field program.

"We pretty much knew that my best bet was going to be the javelin, because that's what my brother did and I had such a strong arm," Langley said.

Langley said his older brother encouraged him to be great at one event instead of "just mediocre at about 10 things," advice he took to heart.

He hit the weight room and started working on his throwing technique. There was plenty of room for improvement, Langley said.

"The first two years was basically learning the event," he said.

"[In the beginning] I was getting angry a lot ... I knew I had a lot stronger arm [than competitors], but I just wasn't as technically sound."

By the end of his sophomore year, Langley was a conference champion in the event, and would earn that title twice more. He was named first-team All-Conference three times and qualified for the NCAA East Regional Championships twice, finishing as high as eighth in the region this past season.

Langley said his range improved by around 40 feet from when he began throwing, and that he added about 40 pounds from lifting weights during his college career.

Langley said his goal was to "put Gardner-Webb on the map, regionally and nationally." As the first athlete from the school to score a point in the regionals, it would seem he did that.

Langley now will turn to graduate school, and a job as a graduate assistant coach, at Kennesaw State University. The Owls won the conference championship in track and field this year, and Langley thinks they could be an up-and-coming power in the league.

"I'm gong to be coaching the javelin, coaching the pole vault and helping with some of the jumps," he said of his role at Kennesaw, where he will also be studying for a graduate degree in applied exercise and health science.

Langley isn't ready to put his competitive days behind him entirely.

"I'm still going to train for the javelin and see where that takes me," he said, stating his belief that he has a good chance to at least make the Olympic trials.

His Forsyth County days are in the rearview now, but Langley says his time at North was invaluable in setting him down his current path.

"Definitely a big thing was working with Coach [Jim] Bishop while he was there," said Langley, referring to the current strength and conditioning coach at Forsyth Central, who worked with the North program previously.

"Basically, he got my stength levels up, and I really leaned how to basically work my butt off in the weght room there."