A torn labrum in his right shoulder didn’t stop John Mooers. The Dennisville resident is headed to Rutgers University to throw the discus for the Scarlet Knights after a best-in-the-state toss of 185 feet, 11 inches. Mooers was accomplished in the sport as a youngster, having won the 2009 USA Track and Field New Jersey Championship for his age group. Back then he also captured first place in the AAU Districts and AAU Regional Championships.
As a 12-year-old, Mooers stood just 5 feet, 5 inches tall and relied heavily on superb technique. These days, the Avalon lifeguard stands 6 feet, 3 inches, and weighs 200 pounds.
Mooers, who took up wrestling as a Panther freshman, was injured while grappling in his junior year. He sat out the fall and winter seasons of his final high school season but came back incredibly strong this spring.
“I went to physical therapy at Cape Regional and they were great,” said the son of Jim and Debbie Mooers. “I went three days a week from October through February and finished up just days before the season opened on March 1.”
Mooers said he followed the therapists’ instructions “completely,” including performing home exercises. Toward the end of the recovery he was once again lifting weights.
“I was extremely disappointed when I realized I would need surgery since I had put in so much work for my other sports and wouldn’t even be able to compete my senior year,” he said.
Mooers made a phenomenal comeback by capturing the prestigious Woodbury Relays, the Cape May County Championship, the CAL Championship, South Jersey Group II, and the state crown.
“I thought I could win because I took second in South Jersey and the states last year,” said Mooers, who also works at the family marina business.
Mooers, who garnered a 40-24 wrestling record, competed at 182 pounds as a junior. His labrum injury also took him off the gridiron.
Aside from gaining 50 pounds and 10 inches since his freshman year, a constant in his ascension in discus remains the mentoring of the venerable Ed Bradway.
Six years ago Debbie Mooers said Bradway was “exactly the kind of coach every parent would want for their child.” She said Bradway is “always positive and encouraging, sincere and dedicated.”
For his part, Bradway deflects all credit to his pupil. “He started to excel the first year he threw the discus,” said the Green Creek resident. “He competed in the Junior Olympics and placed in the top three. His injury and lack of weight training causes me to imagine what he might have done last spring if he’d been healthy leading up to the season.”
Bradway called Mooers “a talented young man” with the ideal body type for discus.
“He’s gifted with height and long arms and legs,” said Bradway, who has worked with youngsters off and on for more than half a century. “I would explain what behavior would improve his throws and he would immediately implement it, sometimes on the next throw. He could conceptualize movements and then execute them. I haven’t seen that very often.”
Bradway, who still competes in masters competitions, said the key to success in the discus is to “master the physics and technique and to be in excellent physical condition.” He said those attributes produce the confidence necessary to win.
“You’ll be confident rather than having doubts when you step into the ring to compete,” he said. “John is still not at his peak. He’s growing and filling out. He has good flexibility, long levers, quick reflexes, good strength, a sharp mind and a good work ethic.”
Mooers, who enjoys fishing and boating when he’s not in the ring, is following the weight training schedule given to him by Rutgers, where he will major in engineering. He appreciates the teaching he’s received from Bradway and especially loves the individual nature of the sport.
Mooers, whose parents and four older siblings all participated in sports, encourages young athletes to look into track and field because “you can find something you’re good at it” with all of the options the sport offers to participants.
“I’ve been successful because I’ve had the same coach since the fifth grade and I’m fortunate to have a body for the discus,” said Mooers. “I enjoy being at the highest levels because that’s where it’s most competitive. I love track and field because it’s an individual sport. It’s about competing and, of course, winning.”
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