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Nixa freshman Jackson Cantwell breaks record, wins Missouri Class 5 shot put

Division I football prospect shines in his first Missouri state meet

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The growing legend of Jackson Cantwell added another chapter on Friday afternoon.

The lone freshman qualifier for the Class 5 shot put at the Missouri Track and Field Championships and one of three freshmen boys among the 48 competitors across three classifications competing in the shot put finals, the Nixa standout put his stamp on the event.

The 14-year-old Cantwell not only won the Class 5 shot put championship – his third throw that traveled 64 feet 3 ¾ inches (19.60 meters) – but also broke the Missouri Class 5 record in the process.

“I felt it was pretty good out of my hand, but sometimes that can lie to you a little bit if you’re not lined up very well,” Cantwell said. “So I just had to see it land and I thought, wow that might actually happen and then I realized it did and I had a little room to spare. So that was definitely a great feeling whenever I saw it land, I’ll say that.”

The old record of 62-7 ¾ was set by North Kansas City’s Adetomiwa Adebawo in 2019 and Cantwell actually had three throws on Friday that surpassed that mark.

Cantwell’s top toss on Friday fell just a few feet short of the Missouri championships record of 66-11 ½, but he’ll have three more years to chase that mark.

He admitted that chasing the Class 5 record was in the back of his mind on Friday, but said he just wanted to do the best he could.

The state championship (and new Class 5 record) capped off a high school shot put season that the youngster described as “a little bit unpredictable” as he changed up his throwing style.

“I did not think I was going to switch to the rotation at all this year,” Cantwell explained. “I’d originally planned to do it immediately and then my rotation was not very good at the start of the year, so I went back to the glide. Then I went back to the rotation after my glide stalled out, so it was a roller coaster but I’m glad it worked out the way it did in the end.”

The well-spoken 6-foot-8, 285-pound freshman will try to win a second title in the Class 5 discus championship on Saturday morning. He enters the day with the top distance this season among the eight competitors.

Cantwell has been winning and breaking records for a while now and success in the shot put runs in the Cantwell family as both his mother and father competed in the Olympics.

His father, Christian Cantwell, starred at the University of Missouri and then took silver in the shot put at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, and placed fourth at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Jackson’s mother, Teri (Steer) Cantwell, competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Jackson’s proud parents lined up in the stands at Akins Stadium to snap photos of him on the podium on Friday afternoon.

Christian Cantwell Missouri track and field championships 5-26-23 Nate Latsch 22138

The younger Cantwell stood out on the medal stand, of course, like he does excelling in football, basketball and track and field.

Cantwell’s size, strength and smarts – he reported a score of 33 on the ACT a year ago – has made him an easy choice for early scholarship offers from some of the top programs in college football.

Kansas State extended his first offer in October and Missouri, Texas A&M, Kansas, UNLV, Miami, Arkansas, TCU, Tennessee, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa State, Ole Miss and Florida State have offered in the months that have followed.

Cantwell, who started at left tackle for Nixa as a freshman last fall, announced on Twitter earlier this month that he will be attending camps at Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia in June.

The 14-year-old’s future is brighter than the sun, but with everything he has going on and has to deal with, he is focused on continuing to do what he has to to keep getting better.

“I just have to keep working, that’s all it is,” Cantwell said. “I just have to keep thinking just keep trying to get better every single day. My (football) coach John Perry talks about ‘one percent better’ – just trying to find things to get better at every single day to keep getting myself as good as I possibly can.”

Jackson Cantwell Nixa Missouri track and field championships 5-26-23 Nate Latsch 22137

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Photo gallery: Missouri Class 3-5 boys track and field championships (Friday)

Photo gallery: Missouri Class 3-5 girls track and field championships (Friday)