SACO — Jason Montano isn’t afraid to set goals or make the tough decisions to help reach them. The 6-foot, 260-pound Thornton Academy senior signed a letter of intent to join the DePaul University track and field team as a thrower after winning the New England shot put championship both indoor and outdoor as a junior.

Montano, 18, surprised some people when he decided not to play football his senior season to focus on training for his field events. Montano opened the indoor track season with a personal-best 61 feet, 3 inches in the shot put. It briefly was the top mark in the nation this season, according to MileSplit. The next day one of Montano’s friendly rivals, Aiden Felty of Innovation Academy Charter School in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, threw over 64 feet.

Q: When did you get involved in this sport?

A: I got involved in sixth grade. That’s when I started throwing and I fell in love with it right away.

Q: Some people were surprised that you decided not to play football this fall. Was that a difficult choice?

A: So, I really love football. I was with it my whole life. And for me to decide to not play this year was super tough because I love the sport. I really missed it, and I loved the group of guys on the team this year and really missed them but getting down to it, I had to work really hard, and work certain muscle groups, to be able to hit certain marks where I want to go.

Q: What were you throwing at this time last year?

A: Last year I was probably throwing 56, 55 (feet). I hit one big one later last year, it was like 58 feet, but to throw 61 feet already is pretty crazy.

Q: And a day later, some kid from Massachusetts tops it. You’re laughing now but what was your reaction?

A: I mean, I know Aiden pretty well. He’s a super nice kid. He works hard for what he gets so I mean, good for him, I’m proud for him. I’m just excited for our competition this year because we have a good class of 2019, so it’s going to be a competition year for all of us that throw this year.

Q: You’ve already earned an athletic scholarship. Where do you hope this sport takes you?

A: I’d really love to take this to the professional league of throwing. So I’d love to take it to the Diamond League and hopefully from there I could become an Olympian. I really hope to be an Olympian. I watch Tom Walsh (of New Zealand) all the time. I really watch his technique because I’m similar to him. He throws really well. He throws 76 feet. He’s like what I want to be.

Q: What about this year? You’ve already topped your indoor PR by a bundle. Do you have distance goals this year?

A: Not really because whenever I try to think about a certain distance I want to make, it kind of messes with everything. My next goal is I want to break the (indoor) state record, which is (59-10) by Edward Bogdanovich. It was set in 1977 so I’m hoping to break that one. (Editor’s note: Maine high school track records must be set at a state championship meet.)

Q: In 2016, South Portland High’s Dan Guliani threw an all-time indoor best in Maine of 65-4 at a meet at the University of Maine. Is 66 feet doable? Or is it outlandish?

A: I feel like it’s definitely reachable. I just need to focus on form and doing everything right, and hitting the weight room.

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