Michelle Bazile joined the track team at the John Witherspoon School in the spring of 2008 because she was looking to fit in.
“I was kind of anti-social at the beginning of sixth grade and my parents made me go out for a sport in the spring,” said Bazile.
“I disliked running and my dad was the throwing coach so I started throwing. I didn’t really like it but I stuck with it because I didn’t want to run.”
By the time Bazile entered Princeton High in 2010, she was committed to throwing.
“I started to enjoy it more; coming out of eighth grade, I thought it was a pretty good path to pursue,” said Bazile. “Number one, it was something I was enjoying and, number two, throwing can help get you recruited to college.”
Bazile’s path resulted in a state championship last Wednesday as the senior star won the shot put at the Meet of Champions at South Plainfield High.
As Bazile arrived at the meet last Wednesday to compete in the shot and the discus, she wasn’t focused on titles.
“I was just thinking about getting a personal record (PR),” said Bazile. “I didn’t care what I placed as long as I was happy with my distances.”
Early in the competition, Bazile achieved a new distance for her. “This girl named Cheyenne (Cheyenne Bellerand of Emerson High) popped a 43’3 on her first throw,” recalled Bazile. “I was seeded first so I threw last. My PR was 42’4 so I needed to beat my PR by a foot. I had 43’6.25 on my first throw.”
That throw, also a school record, held up and earned Bazile the title with Bellerand taking second.
“I wasn’t thinking about whether I was first,” said Bazile, who didn’t find out that she won until she was competing in the discus on her her way to a 14th place finish in that event. “I didn’t know where I was. I threw 45 on my last throw but my foot hit the board so it was a foul.”
Days after winning the championship, the achievement still hadn’t sunk in for Bazile.
“It’s kind of weird; I can’t believe it actually happened,” said Bazile. “The New Jersey girls at the national championships will be thinking of me as the girl who won. I will have a target on my back.”
In Bazile’s first two years at PHS, it didn’t look like a state title was going to happen for her. As a freshman, she was at 30 feet in the shot and threw 105’4 in the discus to make the sectionals. In her sophomore season, she got her shot in the 36 area and had a personal best of 127’3 in the discus.
“A lot of things started coming together in my junior year,” said Bazile. “For shot put, it helped that I did winter track instead of basketball so I was throwing constantly. At the Penn Relays that year I got my PR in the discus of 139’3 that is still my PR. It is a little frustrating. I was changing a lot of my technique and I got more into weightlifting.”
Entering her senior year, Bazile was confident that she could build on the progress she made as a junior.
“It was not so much about winning titles, it was more about getting personal bests,” said Bazile.
“In the winter, I was looking for 41-42 in the shot; I think I might have been at 41 in the postseason. In the discus, I was looking for 150-160, which is totally within my ability.”
As the season has unfolded, Bazile has been surprised by how well she has done in the shot.
“I had always felt that discus was my specialty until this year,” said Bazile. “I have been consistently throwing the shot put better and I am higher ranked in the shot put.”
Winning both the shot and the discus in the Mercer County Championships in May was a confidence builder for Bazile heading into state competition.
“At the counties, I had my best series in the shot put and the discus,” said Bazile, who had a throw of 41’2.5 to win the shot and a heave of 130’6 in winning the discus.
“I was in the high 120s and 130s in the discus. I had the shot consistently in the 40-41.”
This weekend, Bazile will be taking a shot at more glory as she competes in the 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoors Championships at Greensboro, N.C.
“I have registered only for the shot in the championship division,” said Bazile, who is heading to Brown University where she will be throwing for its women’s track program.
“For the shot put I am looking to go 45 or better and stay in the circle. In the discus, I am entered in the emerging elite division. I have one more discus competition in my high school career. It would be great to PR but I just want to have fun.”
Bazile has certainly had a lot of fun since she grudgingly took up throwing six years ago.