The first time Lisa Huntress saw Jason Montano she knew he had the chance to be something special.

It was during a middle school track meet and Huntress, the throwing coach at Thornton Academy in Saco, saw his potential throwing the shot put.

“I knew if he got some training he could be pretty good,” she said. “It was obvious he got the bug early.”

And Montano certainly lived up to that potential. The Thornton Academy senior had a throw of 63 feet in the shot put this winter to break a 42-year-old Southwestern Maine Activities Association record, set a state record in the indoor championships (62 feet, 1/4 inch) and finished third in the nation at the New Balance Indoor Nationals.

He also signed a letter of intent to attend and compete for DePaul University.

“It was a crazy season,” said Montano, whose longest throw of the season was 63 feet, 21/2 inches in the New England championships, where he finished second.

For those accomplishments, Montano is the Varsity Maine Boys’ Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.

“I’m so happy for him,” said Huntress. “This kid is passionate about this sport. He’s pretty special.”

Huntress said because Maine has had so many outstanding shotputters in recent years, such as Biddeford’s Matt Brady (now at the University of Connecticut) and South Portland’s Dan Guiliani (Mississippi), Montano was often overlooked. Not this year. After giving up football to concentrate on lifting, Montano was clearly the best in the state.

“Giving up football shows you what this meant to him,” said Huntress. “That’s about as passionate as you can get.”

Montano cheered on his former teammates as the Trojans won the Class A football state championship, all the while working out to prepare for his indoor season. “I focused on lifting and making sure I got my technique down,” said Montano. “I didn’t touch much of the shot itself, but I was making sure I was getting in the right lifts and working the right muscle groups.”

He went from throwing in the high 50s to consistently in the 60s, culminating with his record-breaking SMAA throw, 11 inches farther than mark set by Ed Bogdanovich in 1977. “That one means a lot to me,” said Montano.

Montano, who has been assisting the middle school program since the high school season ended, said his goal for the outdoor season is to reach 66 or 67 feet.

In the discus, “I want to hit 200.”

That would shatter the Class A record of 176 feet, 7 inches, set by Deering’s Jared Bell in 2013. George Mendros, the head track coach at Thornton Academy, said he wouldn’t count anything out.

“The thing about track and field, regardless of how good you are, is that your goal is to get better,” said Mendros. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s throwing right now to be honest with you.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH


Comments are not available on this story.