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All-American Pickle picks UVa, seeks state discus, shot put sweep

Eric Pickle’s got a major college future in track and field already signed, sealed and delivered in the Atlantic Coast Conference. While this Bearden High School senior and All-American shot put thrower looks to repeat a Class AAA state title in discus and add a shot put state crown this week in Murfreesboro, he’s also looking forward to attending one of the nation’s more prestigious academic colleges, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

“I didn’t know I’d be doing it in track, but I knew my freshman year this is what I wanted to do, be in Division One,” Pickle said. “I wanted to go somewhere big and I got an opportunity in the A-C-C, which is huge for me.”

As for UVa specifically, “I liked the campus, and the education and the coaches, really those were the three main things that lead me there,” Pickle said prior to a National Letter of Intent signing ceremony in the BHS East Mall Monday, May 15. “I like the historical significance, the campus is cool for me. And it has a good business school. ... I think I’m going into business, but you’re never sure about it.”

As for the UVa coaches, “I liked the way they welcomed me,” Pickle said. “It’s really like a family deal. It was just the place where I was the most comfortable.”

Pickle, 18, said his decision was narrowed to UVA and three other ACC schools: Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, “and North Carolina called me the night I committed to Virginia.” Also in the mix early on, Pickle said, were SEC schools Georgia and Auburn, but contacted was later severed when both schools apparently filled their throwing needs.

A quarterback noted for his strong arm and speed, then a tailback later in his career for the BHS football team, Pickle said he “considered” walking on with the Cavaliers’ football team.

However, “I just think in Division One it’s really hard to do one sport, period, outright, and to do football and track at the same time would be a full-time job for me,” Pickle said. “If I get up there and talk to their football coaches, then maybe. But I think [track is] what’s going to take me the furtherest at U-V-A.”

In addition to throwing discus and shot put, “I think they want me to throw a little hammer, and I might throw a little javelin depending on how quickly I pick it up,” Pickle said. “I think I can pick up javelin quicker than I can pick up hammer. But I’ll probably be doing three events next year.”

The 6-foot, 225-pound Pickle said he bench--presses up to 365 pounds.

Pickle said his first order of business is not only to repeat as discus state champion this week, but to add a shot put state crown and break a record.

“I’m undefeated in shot this year, so I’d like to keep it that way,” Pickle said.

“Also, another goal is to get the state record in discus if I can,” he added. “I’ve thrown a lot of throws in practice this year that would shatter [the current record of 187-feet-10].”

Through Knoxville Track Club, Pickle said he obtained Nike All-American status in shot put based on placing sixth “among the top twenty-five shot putters in the country” during a recent Nike indoor meet.

Steve Prince, BHS boys track and field head coach, said Pickle “is an incredible guy to work with, he’s always lots of fun.,” adding about his athletic ability, “He did the decathlon for us back when he was a sophomore. He got us a medal at Disney running the four-by-four-[hundred relay].

“He’s just a great kid.”

As for getting his start in field throwing, which came as an eighth-grader, “My dad [Robert] thought I could do it, thought I was strong-armed, and I was pretty big, so I went down to Knoxville Track Club and they taught me down there,” Pickle said.


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