Track Files: Max Herman, 2023 Nike Indoor Nationals Weight Throw Champ
It might seem like Max Herman was a newcomer to the big stage at Nike Indoor Nationals last month, as he captured the Championship Weight Throw with a near-PR 78-11.75. But the truth is that the Marietta HS (GA) senior had been building to that moment since he was in 8th grade, throwing in the NSAF’s Outdoor Nationals Middle School Discus and taking 4th place.
So when he topped the podium on the first day of NIN, he joined his Throw 1 Deep club-mates in a sweep of the USATF and NCAA men’s and NIN boy’s championship weight throws this past winter – as well as taking a big step toward the next level those mentors have achieved.
T1D coach and throws guru Mike Judge has a long connection with the NSAF and has been sending top athletes to its meets for more than a decade. Daniel Haugh (St Pius X HS, ’14) and Isaiah Rogers (Campbell HS, ’16) were both multi-time NSAF All-Americans and represented in its Team NSAF meets in Puerto Rico and Cuba, respectively.
Now Haugh is the new USATF weight throw champ while Rogers similarly topped the podium at NCAAs – the same night Herman was victorious. Both Haugh and Rogers still train with Judge and, not surprisingly, have been mentors for Herman.
“It is great to have a coach who has had so much success not only at the high school level, but also with NCAA and professional throwers,” says Herman. “Not only do I get to reap the benefits of the knowledge he has gained through coaching athletes who are far better than I am, but I also have the ability to talk to people who have had a ton of success in Coach Mike’s system and ask them for advice from an athlete’s perspective. These people have all inspired me to aim high with my goals, and the underlying understanding of the amount of work that they all put in while they were in high school has always driven me.
“Isaiah and Daniel specifically have been great mentors to me as I have been training and trying to learn what I’m doing for the past five years. They always lead by example and are more than willing to spend far too much time discussing technique and training.”
As far as the NIN weight throw competition itself, it was a classic battle between the #1 (Herman) and #2 (Christian Toro of Lincoln HS, RI) throwers in the nation. Herman took the lead from Toro in the 2nd round, with a 77-8.25, then extended it with his winning mark in the 3rd. In the finals, Herman had two fouls – trying to surpass his PR – before closing with a 75-footer. Toro twice exceeded 77 feet, but could get no closer.
“It was a great experience, and I was super excited about the win,” said Herman. “We had a great season of training and a solid plan going into the meet, so I was feeling pretty good. I was extremely lucky to be a part of Coach Mike Judge coaching the winning throwers at the high school, NCAA, and USATF national meets, so I think that was the most exciting part of it all.”
Herman came into the winter with a 71-9 PR, but scored a massive PR 78-6.5 in December, then hit his PR and season-ending US#1 80-5.75 in January at the Alabama vs. The South meet in Birmingham. “We knew leading up to the meet that I was hitting some big numbers in practice, so if I could get a good conversion, I would be close to breaking 80 that day,” he said. “Finally getting over the 80-foot barrier was a pretty big deal for me, and it definitely gave me a lot of confidence moving forward in the season. Once I broke that barrier I was able to get a pretty good volume of competition throws over 80 feet, moving my PR out to 25.76m/84-6 (albeit outdoors due to the struggle of finding indoor meets near me).”
As mentioned earlier, Herman best events weren’t always the weight and hammer throws. He had other throws foremost on his mind when he first joined T1D after his 7th-grade year. “Initially, I was very good at the discus,” he said, “but Coach Mike has always pushed for me to place a lot of time and effort in the weight and hammer throws, so as the years have gone on, I have shifted more and more focus toward them. I was lucky to live so close to such a storied and elite track and field club, and Coach Mike’s guidance and training have certainly been the primary catalyst for my success.”
Herman truly epitomizes the full-stop student-athlete. “My mother is an elementary school teacher, so she has always instilled the importance of learning and education within me,” he says. Herman carries a 4.0 GPA and spent time in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme before refocusing on a mix of Advance Placement courses at Marietta that he feels will best prepare him as he heads to Nebraska this fall to study construction management. “My father was an architect, so he was the inspiration for my interest in architecture and construction.”
Herman went on a number of visits to a number of great academically and athletically elite colleges, but truly felt there was something at Nebraska that he couldn’t find anywhere else. “Coach St. Clair stood out to me, not only through his body of work with his athletes, but also in the amount of time and thought he had put into me personally. Nebraska is an excellent school with fantastic facilities and a team full of elite athletes. When you bring all of those factors together, it makes for a pretty easy decision.”
But first, there’s a senior outdoor season at hand. Herman’s PR of 211-9 is within of the T1D and Georgia state record of 235-11 by Haugh. He’d also like to erase the memory of fouling out at last summer’s Nike Outdoor Nationals. With the confidence he’s built from an unforgettable indoor season, it’s exciting to see what Herman can achieve in the next few months.
Max Herman’s This or That
- AF1 or Air Max? Air Max
- Chipotle or Sweet Greens? Chipotle
- Pool or Beach? Beach
- Friday Night: In and Chill ... or Party Time!! In and Chill
- Date: Dinner & Movie or Great Outdoors? Dinner and Movies
- Sports car or Pick-up truck? Pick up, love my F150
- NBA or NFL (as a fan)? NFL
- Gold medal or World record? Gold Medal
Max Herman’s Favorites
- Favorite Song? Get Along by Kenny Chesney
- Favorite Book? The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
- Favorite Movie? Whiplash
- Favorite Dinner? Steaks with Tomato Pie and Stewed Okra
- Favorite Animal? Dogs
- Favorite Place? Lincoln, Nebraska