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Nick Vena

Sport: Shot Put

Born: April 16, 1993

Town: Whippany

Nicholas Vena was born April 16, 1993 in Morristown and grew up in Whippany. His parents, Michelle and Vic, encouraged him top participate in various sports programs as a boy, including soccer and basketball, however football was off-limits. It was a good thing for the other boys in town given that Nick would one day stand 6’4 ½” and weight more than 250 pounds.

Vic had been a standout in the shot put at West Essex High, so naturally he guided his son, a lefty, into the shot put and discus, where Nick’s size, strength and raw power would give him an obvious advantage. The only problem was Nick found the shot put boring. He wanted to be on teams with his friends.

Nick was unusually quick and coordinated, which enabled him to spin faster than shot-putters his age. As his throws eclipsed 40 and then 50 feet in grade school, he became more excited about the sport and became super-focused on his technique. When Rutgers track coach Anthony Naclerio saw Nick, he agreed to tutor him at clinics so as not to violate a future NCAA recruiting rule.

Vic always kept things fun, making sure not to overschedule his son. When Nick shattered the national bantamweight record at the age of 9, the Venas let him stay home and swim with his pals in the town pool rather than go to the nationals. As an 8th grader, Nick once hit an overhanging tree branch during a meet.

Prep records began to fall starting Nick’s freshman year at Morristown High School, where he was coached by Paul Buccino. At the Armory Track & Field Center in New York City—where he won four national championships—the shot put area had to be reconfigured to accommodate his monster throws. At New Jersey’s Meet of Champions, he won the indoor and outdoor titles all four years and was Penn Relays champion four times, too. Nick was a prep All-American six times.

Nick won one USA Track & Field junior title and set national records for the longest throw by a freshman,