Throwing Ivy League

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Westfield resident to attend Yale for discus

By Anna Skinner

An interest that came from his sister eventually led to Westfield resident Marcus Downs signing a letter of intent to become Yale’s only discus thrower, beginning in August.

Discus, a track and field event where the athlete throws a heavy disc, has been on Downs’ schedule since middle school when he started.

Although he attended Westfield for middle school, he transferred to Park Tudor to continue his education and discus throwing, saying he improved every year.

Downs originally transferred because Park Tudor offered Mandarin, a course that Westfield did not and that he wanted to learn. However, his transfer also placed him as a varsity discus thrower for his entire high school career.

“I think it’s really fun to challenge myself because there’s so much technique in (discus) that you can’t just muscle it,” he said. “You have to have nearly perfect technique to have it fly so well, and you can always improve. There’s almost no one who’s completely perfect with form.”

Downs said one of his proudest moments was when he broke the Park Tudor school record at regionals his sophomore year.

“I’d been throwing 130s (feet) and the school record was 141,” Downs said. “Out of nowhere I threw 145 feet, and I was getting really excited and my next three throws I improved with every one to 147, 150, 157.”

Downs’ final personal record for throwing was his senior year and his last throw of his high school career, where he threw a 184.6.

When it comes to Yale, Downs said he is more excited than nervous.

“I’m really excited because I’ll be the only discus thrower there when I go, so I’m really excited to see what I can do at the college level,” he said. “There are some great competitions every year, Harvard and Yale versus Cambridge and Oxford for track and field, so I get to travel to England.”

Although he has never struggled with upholding academic excellence in addition to his athletics, which include discus, soccer and football, he said he’s nervous about the workload.

“It’s Yale, so it will be difficult to keep my studies up, and it’ll be a lot of work juggling that and sports and a social life,” he said.

Downs plans on going into global affairs, as he is almost fluent in Spanish and efficient in Mandarin, although he is also considering pre-med.

He has been training throughout summer to be at his best when he reaches Yale. Using his garage as a gym, Downs completes workouts organized by his cousin, who is a personal trainer.

And despite their excitement at his success, his parents will miss him.

“We’ll miss the sarcastic humor and how he always keeps things interesting, and just spending time with him,” Downs’ mother, Julie, said. “We do a lot of family games and watch a lot of movies.”

They’ll also miss attending his sporting events, as they’ve never missed one yet. They do plan on attending some of the closer meets.

“It’s nice to push yourself and keep going further and further,” Downs said fondly of his sport. “It’s fun to just launch it out there and see it fly.”

Meet Marcus Downs

Age: 18

Birthday: April 15

Family: Parents Mark and Julie Downs; sisters Aubrey and Natalie

Favorite thing to do in spare time: Volleyball, musical theatre, loves to sing and dance

Favorite part about musical theatre: West Side Story the summer between sophomore and junior year. Took jazz and tap through school after that.

How many discus meets won: Too many to count, won nearly every meet this year. Keeps all medals and ribbons he wins.


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