Bridgeton High School's Braheme Days Jr. has stood above the rest of the nation's scholastic throwers in indoor track and field for the second straight season.
Days holds the best throw in the country this winter - exactly 69 feet at the South Jersey Track Coaches Association meet in late January.
His throw 70-8 was the No. 1 put in the country last winter.
He also won his second consecutive Meet of Champions title this year with a put of 66-10.
Days is The Press Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year for the second straight season.
"It feels really great," Days said. "We always practice very hard, and all this is always a goal every year. You want to come out and win and this year we've been lucky enough to get it done."
Days is always looking to better himself as an athlete, and his mentality always has been to approach each meet as if it was his first. Bulldogs coach Warren DeShields says Days never takes any of his victories for granted.
That approached served him well again this winter.
"I didn't really think of it as a title to defend (at the MOC)," Days said. "You never want to feel like you have something that you don't already really have. That's a dangerous mind-set. You have to come after it like it's the first time and you still have something to prove."
That mentality might have helped him take things a step further this year as he won a New Balance Indoor National title for the first time.
"It's a great feeling; it's all amazing," Days said. "You work so hard and everything between the training, and the actual meet is a little bit of a blur. But if you're lucky enough to win, everything after that is when you can really enjoy it. Like right now is really a time where I can kind of look back on it all and really appreciate it, and it feels great."
Days won the South Jersey Group II title at 68-8 and the state championship at 68-2.
At the beginning of the 2011-12 indoor season, Days was throwing around 59 feet. The senior said there is nothing unique that explains his continued improvement.
"We just show up and work really hard like everybody else," said Days. "When you work hard, you're at least giving yourself a chance to be great."
"He makes it easy to coach when someone like him is willing to learn and able to take coaching," DeShields said. "Watching (Bridgeton throwing) Coach (Ray) Wilks and Braheme work together is highly technical. It makes it easy when Braheme says, 'This is what's happening,' and Wilks says, 'OK, do this and this and this,' and Braheme is so receptive to it. He's one of the best kids that you could have as far as moving to the next level and on the technical side of it."
Days said he loves the internal competition that the shot put offers.
"It's almost entirely on you," Days said. "You always have the chance to improve on something. It's always you versus yourself. It's one of the sports where you determine where you are and where you can be, and I really appreciate that about it."
Days will attend UCLA on a full athletic scholarship in the fall.
"I've always wanted to go to a good college since I was a little kid, and UCLA is a great school," Days said. "It was the best visit I took. I was able to speak to the coaches and the team and they were all great. The program is great and the general surrounding was great so I felt like it was a good space to be in."
As Days enters the outdoor season and the final stretch of his high school career, the plan remains the same.
"Hopefully I'll go out the right way," he said. "A lot of people get nervous when it comes to moving on, but you never want to be stagnate for too long. I see it as another challenge and moving up to a better level of competition, which will cause me to train more and it will challenge me even more.
"And then hopefully that will show in competitions."
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