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Mansfield’s Mike McPherson a record-breaking thrower for Bridgewater State track

Mansfield High grad Michael McPherson (left) refines his form at Bridgewater State University, where he’s been a record-setting competitor for coach T.J. Smith (below).
Mansfield High grad Michael McPherson (left) refines his form at Bridgewater State University, where he’s been a record-setting competitor for coach T.J. Smith (below).

McPherson tossing field records aside

When Bridgewater State University  resumes its indoor track season Saturday at the Wheaton College Invitational, senior Michael McPherson will be following a tough act — his own.

The former Mansfield High stalwart capped last spring’s outdoor season with a school-record heave of 55 feet 7½ inches in the shot put at the NCAA Division 3 championships in Claremont, Calif.

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His eighth-place finish resulted in All-America honors for the 6-foot-2, 290-pound McPherson, who started the indoor season last month the same way he left off last spring.

He broke Bridgewater’s indoor record in the shot (53 feet 9¼ inches) at the University of Massachusetts Boston Invitational, then eclipsed his own mark at the Harvard Open (55-8½), where he placed first among collegiate competitors and second overall.

“The records are nice, but my goal is to improve from meet to meet and to improve enough to win a national championship,’’ said McPherson, whose recent performances were recognized by the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference with a pair of Indoor Field Athlete of the Week honors.

“He’s an unbelievable talent, incredibly athletic for a man his size and as strong as anyone I’ve ever coached,’’ said the Bridgewater State men’s track & field coach, T.J. Smith.  

“Mike transferred here from a Division 1 college and we’re more than happy to have him. I knew he had been a stud in high school, I just never anticipated how great he would become here.’’

McPherson, the 2008 state shot put champion indoors and outdoors as a senior at Mansfield High, attended Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina for three semesters.

“It just didn’t go well for me there, and I was hoping to do better,’’ said McPherson.

“When I threw the shot in high school, I used the glide technique in which you push off one foot. My first year in college, I had some difficulty adapting to a different technique called the spin, in which you rotate your body. It’s more technical and I hadn’t done it before. At least now it’s working well for me.’’

McPherson, whose older sister, Heather, was a multisport athlete at Mansfield High and Bridgewater State, sat out the 2010-11 season after his transfer.

“At first, I really hadn’t thought about going back to track,’’ he said, “but after time passed, I started to miss competing.’’

A familiar face at the World Gym in Foxborough, where he works out two hours a day, four days a week with a focus on power lifting, McPherson didn’t try out for track until his junior year at Mansfield High.

McPherson, a Hockomock League All-Star in football, decided the throwing events would enhance his performance on the gridiron, and ended up earning Globe All-Scholastic honors in track.

“One of my track teammates, Dan Glavin, helped me with getting started in the shot put and discus, and I got the hang of it pretty quickly,’’ he recalled.

“Still, it was hard work and at first I wasn’t crazy about it, but I knew I was getting better and it was nice to have some success at states.’’

In addition to his shot put records, McPherson, a criminal justice major, also holds the Bridgewater State outdoor mark in the hammer throw (172-2).

McPherson and throws specialist Stephan Cawley , a team captain from Dedham, provide a veteran 1-2 punch for the Bears. They serve as mentors for another promising weight thrower, sophomore Christian Lavoie of Marion.

“When Mike knows he didn’t hit a throw just right, he’ll ask me how he could do it better,’’ said the team’s throws coach, Mike Salem . “It’s unique to find someone who pushes himself constantly, and he’s the best shot putter I’ve coached.’’

Salem said McPherson is among the country’s elite throwers and is “right in the hunt’’ for an NCAA title.

He has also witnessed McPherson’s athleticism in an impromptu setting.

“Some of my women’s team members were practicing the high jump and the bar was at 5 feet 2 inches,’’ said Salem, “and without warning, Mike came by and hopped right over it. That was wild.’’

Pro lacrosse team builds on local talent

Pembroke native Jason Wellemeyer, a two-year lacrosse captain and seventh all-time scorer at Babson College, is co-owner of the new Boston Rockhoppers professional indoor team.

The Rockhoppers made a successful North American Lacrosse League debut Jan. 5 with a 10-9 road win against the Kentucky Stickhorses, and on Saturday hosted the Baltimore Bombers at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough.

The squad features several former collegians from the area: Marty Bowes of Quincy (University of Hartford), T.J. Dahill of Hanover (Wentworth), Matt Levesque of Duxbury (Skidmore), Greg Paul of Hingham (Dean), and Steve Trocki of Braintree (Saint Anselm).

Wellemeyer, a 2008 Babson grad, started PrimeTime Lacrosse with one of his college teammates, Tyler Low. The Wellesley-based organization, which sponsors the Rockhoppers, also offers camps, clinics, and teams for players ages 6 through 18.

Murphy, Cosby score top basketball honors

University of Massachusetts Amherst freshman forward Olivia Murphy of Canton, and Bridgewater State senior guard Michaela Cosby of Walpole were both cited by the PrestoSports/New England Women’s Basketball Association for their play during the week ending Jan. 7.

Murphy earned Rookie of the Week honors after leading UMass to the championship of the Key Largo Classic, where she was named tournament MVP for averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds per game. Her four-game hot streak included a 20-point, 15-rebound effort in a double-overtime win against Maine Maritime.

Cosby was the association’s Player of the Week after averaging 17.3 points, 8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.3 steals to lead the Bears to the championship of the Hampton Inn/Naismith Classic, where she was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

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