by Scott Kindberg
Battle Sets Sights on UB
But, in the end, he realized there’s no place like home.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association as well as the Federation champion in both the shot and discus made it official earlier this week when he decided to continue his academic and athletic careers at the University at Buffalo.
Battle, who graduated from Jamestown Nigh School in June, opted for the Mid-American Conference school over Kansas University, which he visited two weeks ago.
“I had a lot of fun and I liked it out there, but I’m going to be a Bull,”Battle said.
Jamestown High School track coach Greg Sherlock figured UB got a steal.
“He may put them on the map for track and field,” Sherlock said. “It only takes one great athlete to do that. If he sticks with it and lifts like he should, I think he can be the person to do it.”
His resume is certainly impressive enough.
In addition to claiming state titles in the shot and discus, Battle, a high school All-American, also finished second in both events at the USA Track and Field Youth Athletics National Championships in Decatur, Ill., as well as placing second in the discus at the Adidas/Foot Locker Classic in Raleigh, N.C.
When you add to that a state discus title as a junior as well as a state title as a first team all-state defensive lineman for the Red Raiders’ football team last November, UB is getting arguably one of the finest athletes in Western New York history.
And he may have just scratched the surface of his potential.
Battle’s personal-best throws are 193 feet, 3 inches in the discus and 59-3 ¾ in the shot, accomplished, he admits, without much work in the weight room.
But Battle’s training techniques have changed in recent weeks as he works on adding more muscle to his 6-foot-3, 235 pound body in anticipation of throwing the heavier collegiate shot and discus.
“I have to get a lot stronger,” Battle said. “(The UB coaches) said that if I get stronger, I could win the MAC. I have to work on a couple of technique things and it should all go from there.”
Battle, who will also compete in the hammer throw, will be under the watchful eye of UB assistant Jim Garnham, who has coached in WNY at various levels for years, and head coach Dick Barry.
“They’re hoping mid-50s as a freshman (in the shot), which is big,” Sherlock said.
As for the discus, Battle is hoping he can do about 170 feet as a freshman.
“I wanted to be able to come in and compete,” he said. “I didn’t want to redshirt. I wanted to be able to come in and show what I had. If I can get stronger, I think I can do well in the conference.”
Added Sherlock, “UB has given him a great opportunity to fulfill he dreams and goals. He’s going to find himself and find out what he really wants to do. UB has just given him the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Battle will have some familiar company on the Amherst campus as former JHS football teammates, Aaron Leeper and Michael Baker, will also be freshmen.
“The last year has been really exciting. I got a lot accomplished and it was fun,” Battle said, “but I don’t know what’s to come.”