Sun Sports Contributor
VESTAL – At the conclusion of the Binghamton University Bearcats’ 2017 Outdoor Track season, among the 13 named Bearcats who received America East All-Conference accolades two Norwich natives- Brooke Bonney and David Bernstein stood out in big ways.
At the America East Conference championships held over the course of two days on May 6, and 7, Bonney and Bernstein both placed second in the hammer throw.
In the men’s competition, Bernstein threw for a staggering 182’6” toss. Meanwhile, Bonney threw her hammer for a distance of 171’11”. While both call Chenango County their home, it is by their differences in approach and experience that have them getting closer to a potential conference championship.
After graduating from Norwich High School in June 2016, Bernstein’s reputation as an outstanding shot put and discus thrower in high school allowed for a quiet entrance into the NCAA division 1 level, that he would be exposed to less than 12 month later.
Bernstein’s ability to learn, excel, and put nothing but his absolute personal best into his craft proved to be a major advantage for the BU freshman athlete. Put this into perspective, with hammer throw rarely practiced within the NYSPHSAA, Bernstein picked up a hammer for the first time this past winter in preparation for the outdoor season, all while working on his other skills such as disk and shot.
Bernstein, the quintessential poster child for the hammer throw, given his 6’3” size and overall athletic build graced the Bearcats lineup as a quick learner and an even better athlete to boot.
Bernstein’s throw of 182’6” in the hammer placed him in a unique position, ranking 13th among all of the NCAA Division 1 freshmen-surpassing the masses of athletes from major conference schools such as the SEC, ACC, and PAC-12.
While Bernstein has had an excellent support system thanks to the Norwich Purple Tornado’s head throws coach Tom Stoddard, who helped David develop his speed, strength, and throwing forms during his high school athletics career, Bernstein has gained a new guru of the throwing world under Binghamton University’s throwing coach Crystal Muse.
Muse, a former athlete at Northeastern University won ECAC and Penn Relay titles in the hammer throw, for those outside of the track and field circuit, those are incredible achievements.
Needless to say, Bernstein is in good hands as his potential in the hammer throw is only just emerging. Although as his status as an unknown in the cage had its benefits this past season, allowing him to grow into his own, Bernstein understands he still has a lot to learn and a lot of hard work still ahead of him – and that begins this upcoming summer and into the fall as he prepares for another year to dominate the America East.
While Bernstein’s label as an unknown at the division one level certainly had its benefits – Brooke Bonney an America East All-Conference athlete a year ago, and already an accomplished athlete at Binghamton as it is – Bonney claiming the Bearcat record for hammer throw gave her more fuel to her already incredibly hot raging fire, and motivating her performances.
And with two years of experience at the collegiate level, Bonney knew going into the 2017 Outdoor season, she was going to make sure she was prepared. As a naturally motivated and inspired athlete in her own right, Bonney’s competitive nature would supersede that of almost any common athlete. But make no mistake, Bonney does her homework to get the results she strives for.
“Competing this year versus last year was like night and day,” said Bonney, “It took some adjusting to be able to tap into my competitive nature and channel my energy into good throws, and I think I finally figured out how to do that effectively this year.”
Perfecting her craft and becoming comfortable with her technique along with channeling every bit of strength from her athletic yet explosive 5’10” build was the first step towards her success.
However, Bonney was no slouch to the realm of heavy competition. Competing in extremely competitive meets in high school, whether it was at the New York State Championships or National Invitational meets, along with Penn Relays – and Conference Championships in college. Basically if you name it- odds are she’s done it.
And like her teammate Bernstein, Bonney is not afraid of any new challenges. Once again, as a naturally motivated athlete, Bonney’s interest and curiosity of the hammer throw intrigued her.
It wouldn’t be long before Bonney was throwing just as far- and even further than many established veteran throwers within her own conference as well as other members of the NCAA.
“As a freshman coming in, I didn’t even know what a hammer was or what it looked like, so getting thrown into an event with little to no experience felt a bit like trying on high heels for the first time – just awkward and unsteady,” said Brooke Bonney.
Nonetheless, her aptitude in athletics furthered her excellence and just two years removed from the first time in her life that she saw a hammer, she’s on the cusp of winning the America East conference.
Bonney’s ability to be flexible in throwing events, is nothing but a coach’s dream. And make no mistake, having only been removed nearly a week and a half from her last outing of the season- she’s already planning for more.
“This year I was really hoping to hit 60’ in the weight throw and I fell just short, so next year I’m looking forward to shattering that milestone and hopefully opening up over 60,” said Bonney.
But Bonney just doesn’t quite stop there, adding, “I made huge gains this past season and fully believe that I could make similar gains next season. Ultimately I would love to hit the 200ft milestone.”
Under the same tutelage of excellent coaches from both high school and college, Bonney is on the fast track to achieve even more in the coming years.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere without Coach Stoddard and Coach Horan. I really can’t say enough how much both of them changed my life, especially Stoddard,” said Bonney of her NHS Track and Field coaches. “Equally as important, Coach Muse, is absolutely incredible. I am so incredibly fortunate to have her as a source of knowledge and support during my college career. She makes us want to work hard and that’s really what makes the difference.”
Bonney’s support system goes far deeper beyond her coaches and athletic mentors, she said of the “incredible network of support in my family and friends” that has helped her throughout her college athletics journey.
Bernstein and Bonney’s exploits on the track and field circuit are incredibly impressive, even for the casual observer, but these two athletes aren’t done yet as they’ve clearly expressed. Which means that there is still so much work left for them to do. Be prepared, you haven’t seen anything just yet.