Adversity Fuels Thrower Mason Miles

Mason Miles claims he’s a five-star chef at home when cooking family meals, a pastime he picked up during the COVID-19 pandemic, but his recipe for success this outdoor track and field season is simple: stay healthy. That has proved to be harder than it sounds.

Mason started the track and field season in fine form after breaking the indoor school record in the shot put with a throw of 56’3”. It was his first year of indoor after missing the season last year due to an ACL injury sustained in football. He wanted to transition the momentum he had built up in his first indoor competitions to outdoor, with a goal of breaking that record too. 

By now, Mason’s coaches and teammates know that even if he is down, he’s never out. He refuses to give up – even when his bad luck repeated about six weeks ago. He injured his finger on his throwing hand and had to take off a few weeks before slowly coming back with just the discus event.  He still has not fully overcome his injury but says, “The key right now is the ability to push through it and perform.”

He did just that in his first competitive shot put appearance since his injury. At the recent Pine-Richland Invitational, Mason captured gold in both the shot put and discus.  

“I didn’t count myself out once I got injured,” Mason states. “I thought the injury would pass but it didn’t, causing me to go to the doctor, who told me to either stop throwing or push through it. There was no chance I was going out with an injury my senior year.”

“This time, he’s hoping to get that state medal outdoors in the shot put, and he’s also got goals related to the discus,” says head coach Tom Moul. “He seems very excited about this season and sets high standards for himself.” 

Mason’s career accomplishments to date include being a two-time WPIAL qualifier in the shot put twice in outdoor. He was a WPIAL runner-up in outdoor in his sophomore year and was fifth last season. During the winter season, Mason finished fourth at the indoor state championships. In between he’s won or been the runner-up in dozens of competitions.

“My goal this season (outdoor) is 58 feet or more in the shot put and 165 feet or more in discus,” says Mason. “I prefer shot put because I think I’m better at it personally, but that can always change.” 

Right now, Notre Dame recruit Peyton Murray from Hempfield is the top thrower in the WPIAL. He throws 57 feet in the shot put and 185 feet in the discus. Mason’s best discus throw in a meet is 151 feet.

“I have been throwing 160s in practice (discus), so I’m ready for a huge PR (personal record),” says the senior. 

Years of Hard Work

Mason’s introduction to throwing began in middle school.

“I started doing field events in seventh grade and joined track to stay in shape for football, but I gravitated toward that more than football because it seemed more fun and enjoyable to me,” says Mason, who was the Foxes’ leading tackler in football last season. 

Track and field was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, but Mason, then an eighth-grader, didn’t waste time sitting around. He and his father built a home gym in their basement, and he used it to stay in shape and get stronger for football and his throwing events.

The pause in athletics that year never dulled his desire to throw. He says, “My favorite thing about it is how raw the sport is, and you have to be very athletic and strong just to throw far.” 

His passion for the sport also led him to work with local throwing expert Jayne Beatty after his sophomore year. “She gives me knowledge of the little positions I might be missing and tips on how to become a better thrower,” Mason explains.

According to Foxes throwing coach Scott Karavlan, Mason’s progress was not a straight shot to the winners’ podium, not only because he has been hampered by injuries, but also because it was a process for him to develop into the thrower he is today.

“Mason has not been an overnight success; he’s an amazing thrower who has consistently improved throughout his high school career,” says the assistant coach, who describes him as conscientious, strong, and resolute. “His results are the culmination of years of work.”

Head coach Tom Moul adds, “Mason really wants to get that outdoor school record, but as I always say, those are nice and impressive, but getting on that podium in a championship meet, that’s where one’s legacy is made. That separates the good from the great. He’s got a couple of those (podium appearances) and is looking for more. I’m very excited to see how his season unfolds. Mason is already one of the all-time greats and hopefully will continue on that path.”