NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Elliott Purdy first picked up a shot put at a track meet in the fourth grade. Purdy loved playing soccer, but his dad made him join the track and field team in seventh and eighth grade.
Elliott Purdy holds the North Platte High School record in shot put and discus, and will head to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to throw for the Huskers. (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
Purdy excelled in eighth grade, breaking the district middle school shot put record, and that set him on the path he is now on. Purdy qualified for the State championship meet as a freshman, sophomore, and junior, medaling in every event he competed at over those three years.
"I think Elliot really shows what an athlete should be," said Purdy's throwing coach, Steve Miller. "He's always tried to improve himself and try to take that one more step, especially when he made the decision to go from the glide to the rotation, that really helped him out a lot."
In the middle of his sophomore year, Purdy changed the way he threw shot put, and saw an immediate improvement, with an additional three feet to his PR in the first meet he used the rotation technique.
During his junior year, Purdy's goal was to break the school shot put record, which was 58' 1.5". He threw 58' at a few meets during the year, and was throwing longer than that at practices, but he just couldn't get passed it in a meet.
"It was weird because it was a huge weight for a long time. We always talked about throwing under pressure, but not putting extra pressure on yourself. I couldn't shake it for some reason, it just was weighing so heavy. I knew I could do it, I think a big problem was I was just trying so hard and just not trusting what I could do and doing it," Purdy said.
However, the District meet at North Platte High School was where Purdy put himself in the record book, with four of his six throws passing the school record. Purdy went on to win the bronze medal at the State meet, and the next day won silver in the discus, also breaking the school discus meet, with a throw of 177' 7".
For his senior year, Purdy wanted to break the Nebraska shot put record of 67' 11.5", but will not get the chance to because of the cancellation of the season.
"At the beginning of the season when we were still practicing, I had a few throws that by the end of season probably would have put me pretty close to that the state record," Purdy said.
The COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the school year was tough for Purdy. Not only was school closed, and the spring sports season cancelled, the North Platte spring musical, which Purdy had a lead role in, was also cancelled.
"At first I was heartbroken," Purdy said. "The worst part about it was it was just one thing after the next, the musical went, then track went, and the rest of the school year went. It was really hard, I couldn't find anything to cope with, to try to get my mind off of it. I would say the first two weeks I was down and not really myself, and I kind of just had a 'come to Jesus' with myself about how I can't change the circumstances. Life happens, so we've got to do what we've got to do, and I decided well I'll just start getting ready for college."
Purdy has always wanted to play football for the Huskers, and even took a couple of unofficial visits to the University of Nebraska for football, and had the possibility to receive a walk-on offer. Purdy also received a scholarship offer to throw on the Husker track and field team, and decided to accept the offer.
"Since I was little, I wanted to play Husker football so bad. I talked to my family about it we just decided it wasn't worth waiting out for a walk-on scholarship," Purdy said. "I'm one of the most competitive people ever, so I want to be able to compete. I'm still super excited to go down there and rep Nebraska."
Purdy said to be able to call himself a Husker, and wear the scarlet and cream, will be an honor for him.
"It's going to make me super proud. All the hours you put in the time, in the weight room, the time in my garage working on form, all the times I got super upset with the sport and just threw the shot put on the ground, walked away for a little bit, just knowing that it's all going to pay off, it's going to be awesome," Purdy said.