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Lowery's winter itinerary eclectic

February 20, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Boonsboro junior J.R. Lowery.
Boonsboro junior J.R. Lowery.

BOONSBORO — J.R. Lowery doesn’t consider “work” or “busy” to be four-letter words.

Now “idle” is a different story.

The Boonsboro junior has a schedule that would make ordinary people breathless. He balances playing football in the fall and competing in indoor track in the winter while starting for two hockey teams — the Washington County Northstars and the Hagerstown Bulldogs.

He’s a lineman, a shot putter, a pole vaulter and a hockey player. Each position has its own discipline, technique and practice schedule. Yet, Lowery does it all for simple reasons.

“Just sitting around and watching TV isn’t fun to me,” Lowery said. “I like to move around.”

The real fun starts today when Lowery will be competing at the Maryland Class 1A State Indoor Track & Field Championships. He doesn’t want to just win the Class 1A title; he is out to become the champion of champions with the longest throw in the state.

“I’m behind one guy — Thomas Johnson’s Brian Uthe,” Lowery said. “It’s going to be tough, but I think I can do it.”

Lowery’s season-best throw of 51 feet, 3 1/2 inches is second-best in the state behind Uthe’s 52-10. Lowery only threw 47-9 in the 1A West region meet but was hampered by a hand injury he suffered while playing hockey.

What makes this all the more intriguing is that Lowery and Uthe won’t have a face-to-face throwdown. Uthe doesn’t compete until Tuesday in the 4A meet.

“I just want to go out and get a first throw that will blow the kid’s mind,” Lowery said.

If it happens, Uthe should be honored just because Lowery had the time to fit him in his schedule.

“It’s tough,” Lowery said. “I have track after school and then I go home and do my homework because I have to keep my grades up. Then I go to hockey practice from 8 to 10 p.m. It gets pretty hectic this time of year.”

It’s a sacrifice Lowery is more than willing to make, especially when it comes to hockey. Skating and hockey helped start Lowery in athletics, which was a matter of good fortune.

“I started skating when I was 4,” Lowery said. “My dad won tickets from a radio station to the free skate at the hockey rink. My brother Drew and I took to it really quickly. After skating, we watched them play hockey. We told our dad we wanted to play.”

For J.R., it started an athletic odyssey. Playing hockey led to soccer at age 6 and junior football by third grade (mainly because Drew was playing). Track joined the mix because of his parents’ background in the sport.

“My mom and dad used to be officials at the state meet before I was born,” Lowery said.

Lowery’s mom, Sue, is his throws coach at Boonsboro, which has helped him reach the state level. Still, Lowery gives credit to hockey for his success.

“You look at me as being a big guy and that I shouldn’t be all that fast, but my speed helps me,” Lowery said. “I’m not fast, but you can see my speed in football, hockey and track. It helps me in football with the hitting and it helps me in track with the conditioning and agility.”

Lowery started as a goalie, which has enhanced his side-to-side movement and reflexes, while skating has kept him fit and strengthened his legs. Hockey has helped in football because checking and blocking have similarities. Straight-ahead speed and flexibility are pluses in the pole vault. All the attributes also come together during his spinning delivery in the shot put.

The latest — and biggest — test to date starts today. The first step is going out and winning the 1A title.

Then, Lowery will end up feeling like a PGA golfer on a Sunday. He will post his score and sit in the clubhouse to see if it’s enough to beat Uthe. Instead of watching a scoreboard, Lowery will have to scan newspapers and the Internet to see if he will be the best of the best.

“If I put up a good throw, I think he will notice,” Lowery said. “I just have to do my best and hope. This time of year, everyone starts looking to see who is No. 1 in each event. This is my time to shine. Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a state champion, but if I could be the best in the state, that would be great.”

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