GRAY, Tenn. (WJHL) — In our digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Eli Penix, a junior track & field athlete at Daniel Boone High School.
Track & Field is more than just running.
“You don’t want to be one-dimensional you like to be able to spread it out and include more of the different events,” Daniel Boone head track and field coach Len Jeffers said.
Daniel Boone junior Eli Penix is throwing at an elite level.
“I’ve just always had a knack for throwing it’s always been something for me to just pick something up and throw it no matter the element but shotput just really clicked in my head and I’ve always loved the motion of throwing,” Penix said.
Now he’s throwing at a state champion level, winning the state title in large school shot put with a throw of 57-9.5, also a Daniel Boone school record.
“To be honest with you I haven’t fully soaked it in it all felt like a dream when it happened and just the experience especially after the discus because the shotput I was a lot more confident with,” Penix said.
But it wasn’t time to kick back and relax just yet; he got back out there in a couple hours and competed for the state title in discus. He won that one too.
“The discus it was very emotional knowing just how far we’ve came and how bad it was at the beginning of the season knowing my potential to we actually finally executed with the big opener and we just gained confidence throughout the meet so I was really happy about it,” Penix said.
The entire Blazers program did well at state, with the boys 4×800 relay team also bringing a trophy back to the Tri-Citites.
“Just this little county school going out there and competing with that big branch of all those schools in the large school division it’s just crazy to know that what we have going on here and the work ethic we have behind all of it,” Penix said.
But Eli wasn’t this good right away. He was always interested in throwing and picked it up in 8th grade. Once he got to high school, he had a hurdle to jump.
“I remember my freshman year thinking these low 30 marks were just outrageous and I was barely getting ahold of the shot and it was hard to flick my fingers on the release and it’s crazy to think that 20 or 25 have just came from that many reps and the strength and stuff like that,” Penix said.
He kept working at it and stopped playing football to go all-in on throwing. With the help of his throwing coach Chad Penix, who’s also his father, he started making rapid improvements.
“There’s a correlation to lifts in the gym reps in the throwing and everything outside of it with eating and stuff that when you know you’re doing it right and improving there you know you’re always going to improve in throwing so it’s an ongoing collective unison of building the throw through all kinds of factors in your life,” Penix said.
Now he’s a state champion and you’d think he’d take some time to rest after a grinding season, but he got right back out here in a matter of days to start training for next year.
“I’m a big fan of recovery but the hunger knowing next year and what I could do is just driving me for this offseason I mean it’s more so just the marks on throwing but I really want to hit that 190-200 mark in disc and maybe a 65-70 shot just come as close as I can to the state records for sure,” Penix said.
Now he always has that motivation of what happens when all that hard work pays off, and it’s pretty sweet.
“Yeah just stepping on that is just knowing the battle it took to get there and finally know that you’re there it’s hard to realize what actually went into that but very rewarding for sure,” Penix said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.