Slightly over a month ago, Justin Fuller was a typical high school senior athlete. Having accepted the reality that there were no sports scholarship offers on the horizon, all he wanted was to close out a good career at Sterlington, graduate and begin life as a college student. Then one throw changed everything.
Fuller’s athletic career may be just taking off as he has signed a national letter of intent to throw the javelin for Southern Arkansas University.
For Fuller, the defining moment came at the Region 1-3A Track & Field Meet when he unfurled a throw of 159-05. In the process of shattering his personal record by nearly eight feet, he established a new school record.
Nobody was more surprised than Fuller when he was approached by SAU coach Tim Servis.
“I had never even thought about throwing the javelin in college,” Fuller said. “Coach (David) Janssen told me after the Regional Meet that the head coach of a college track team watched me throw, and was asking how I made such a big jump. He said my throw was comparable to most of the throwers in the conference, and he wanted to meet me.”
Fuller says former Sterlington thrower Emily Lara spotted some flaws in his form prior to the Regional Meet.
“Ms. Lara told me what I was missing in my mechanics and approach, so it was a quick fix,” Fuller said.
Fuller also spent time watching German Olympian Thomas Röhler on film.
“Watching Thomas Röhler kind of inspired me,” Fuller said. “I wanted to throw like him.”
Fuller went on to set another PR with a distance of 161-02 en route to finishing fourth in the Class 3A State Meet at LSU. His prep career ended on a bittersweet note.
“Before Regional, I pulled a muscle in my elbow, then I pulled it bad on my last throw at State,” said Fuller, who had the injury examined. “It’s still kind of bothering me, but it’s not anything major. With a little rest and rehab, I should be good to go.”
SAU offered a few days after the State Meet, and Fuller pondered the offer before signing last week.
Fuller considered football to be his primary sport in high school. He played all four years and was a two-year starter at defensive end. As a senior, he was named first-team All-District 2-3A after helping the Panthers to a state runner-up finish.
Prior to his sophomore year, Fuller’s track experience was limited to one season at the middle school level.
“I didn’t go out for track my freshman year,” Fuller said. “Coach Janssen talked me into coming out my sophomore year.”
Fuller started out running the 400-meter dash before gravitating towards the throwing events.
“I didn’t want to run the 400 for the rest of my career, so I kind of got into throwing,” Fuller said.
It turned out to be a wise move.
Besides placing runner-up at Regional in the javelin, Fuller was the district champion in the shot put as a senior. He was also part of the Panthers’ 4 x 100m relay team.
A 3.6 student, Fuller is academically qualified to compete.
Add Fuller to the growing list of names of former Sterlington students who plan to follow the school’s athletic trainer, Paul “Doc” Vaughn, into the sports medicine field.
“Basically, I watched how Doc gets people back in shape and ready to go, and decided that was something I wanted to do,” Fuller said.