Massachusetts Maritime Academy sophomore Colin McCabe is looking to throw his name in the hat for an NCAA Division III national championship.
And if this spring season has proven anything for the Buccaneer shot putter, when the Dartmouth native throws anything, it typically is in record-setting fashion.
McCabe has embarked to Geneva, Ohio, for the NCAA Division Track & Field championships this weekend, becoming the first Buccaneer track & field athlete to qualify for nationals and will end an 18-year drought of Buccaneer student-athletes competing for a national championship. The event will take place at SPIRE Institute and is hosted by the University of Mount Union and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
The sophomore got there by ranking in the Top 20 in the nation in the shot put. He will enter the event as the fourth-seed, having the fourth-best throw in the nation with a heave of 17.37 meters, which occurred during the All-New England Championships on April 11 at South Connecticut State University—one of the eight meets he’s won this season for MMA.
All three of the student-athletes in front of him are seniors while McCabe can’t even cross over to Main Street and buy an adult beverage from the newly opened Mahoney’s On Main.
In five of those meets McCabe had reset his own record for the farthest throw in school history, with his most recent 17.37-meter throw currently ranking among the top.
And despite all of that, McCabe looked back on this season wondering what would have happened, had he not listened to his friend two years ago.
“I wasn’t even planning on doing track after coming back from Sea Term,” admitted McCabe, who threw as a freshman on the Bucs’ team. “I just wanted to lift and work out for the summer. But my friend Cole Mottl talked me into doing it.”
Typically a football player—a standout one, at that, at both the varsity and collegiate levels—and a baseball player in high school, McCabe was always reluctant to accept his place in the annals of shot-putting supremacy.
“I didn’t even know what shot put was,” McCabe said recalling back to his freshman year of high school before he tried out for the team. “But I joined the team and just watched the other kids do it and picked it up from there and perfected my form and got my strength involved.”
Although appearing as if he was chiseled from stone, McCabe described himself as a late-bloomer physically, saying he didn’t hit his growth spurt until his junior year at Dartmouth High. But that allowed McCabe the chance to focus on his form and add the strength once it came. Now standing at 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds, the strength is fully there.
In between meets, the sophomore can usually be found in the weight room, where he varies his workouts between power days and medicine ball workouts.
The power-lifting days are his favorite, focusing on squats, bench press and deadlifting to generate his power not only in his throws, but on the gridiron for the Buccaneers’ football program, where he’s a starting defensive tackle. He adds in clean presses, snatches and jerks for explosive movement workouts, while mixing in medicine ball exercises to work on balance.
“I’m always in the weight room working out,” McCabe said. “But I also watch Olympic throwers on Instagram to watch their mechanics.”
And perhaps more important than his physical preparation is his mental approach, where he’s shooting for personal records on every throw.
“I set a goal of [getting] a PR every week,” McCabe said. “I always try to get a PR to satisfy myself; if not, I’m mad at myself.”
But with the possibility of a national championship within his sights, the marine engineering major has adjusted his goals for a much loftier accomplishment—the Olympics.
“To be on the Olympic team you have to throw 20.5 meters. I’m just 10 feet from there. So that’d be cool if I can pick up five feet as a junior and five more as a senior,” McCabe said.
Currently ranking at 140th top shot putter in the nation among all collegiate divisions, the sophomore has come a long way from his first collegiate throw of 13.96 meters. Now McCabe stands just three meters away from representing his country in a sport he almost never played.
“I wouldn’t mind doing that,” McCabe said with a shrug, not as reluctant as he once used to be about the sport.