by Andrew Garda

Things are definitely ahead of schedule for Montclair High School senior Shelby Bigsby.

The shotput-throwing athlete had a schedule in mind when she started competing for this year’s MHS indoor track team.

“I thought maybe in season, 46, 47 feet and then outdoors that’d be the big hoorah or whatever because it’s my senior year,” Bigsby said before a recent practice. “But it came faster than expected.”

That’s one way to put it.

During this indoor track and field season. Bigsby has dominated the field, constantly throwing for personal best distances.

She broke the ECADA County Meet Indoor record with a throw of 45-04 to become the best in New Jersey. Then she headed to the Armory Track and Field Center in New York and threw for 48-07.25, becoming the best in the country.

Just this past weekend, she won the NJSIAA Group 4 Sectional Championship with a throw of 48-06 — almost 10 feet better than the second-place competitor. That distance was nearly 20 feet better than the winner of the Group 1 Sectional, and would have landed her in first place for the Boys Group 4 event and second place for the Boys in Group 1.

“I definitely didn’t expect to be No. 1 in the country,” Bigsby said. “Everything came faster, but now the goal is to go farther. Maybe 50. Who knows?”

Her coach, Henry Wilson, seems to know or at least believe. His goals — and Bigsby’s — include Meet of Champion Titles and an appearance at Nationals.

The big jump in distance, according to both Wilson and Bigsby, is in part due to the time spent in the weight room. In years past, the team hadn’t focused on it as much. But coming into this season, Wilson felt it could make a huge difference and as a coach on the state-title-winning Mounties team, which spent a lot of the offseason getting stronger in the weight room, he’d know.

“Our strength coach, Coach Washington, came up with a package to improve her mass and get her much stronger,” Wilson said. “And you can tell what’s happening because comparing her maxes from last year to this year, it’s about 100 plus weight difference.”

Wilson said the ability to practice indoors — something they’ve been able to do more frequently this winter than in years past — has made a big difference as well.

“This year we’ve been inside a lot and made ourselves a little throwing circle, too,” Wilson said “So that’s definitely made a difference.”

He’s also seen a huge effort from Bigsby to improve, one which she said was a conscious decision.

“I’d definitely say that out of all my years, this year I’ve worked about a thousand times harder,” Bigsby said. “Because now I know the goals I have specifically set and exactly what I want to achieve. So, this is definitely a year that I’ve worked harder.”

Bigsby also said that even with all the success she’s had, there’s room for improvement.

“Even with the throws of 47 and 48, they weren’t perfect,” she said. “We always take videos and analyze what didn’t we do here, that we can do next time. Just the basic things I need to fix, all the little things that can push me forward so I’m not standing at a 48 when I could go farther.”

How far can she go? Well, she knows that next fall she’ll be going all the way to the University of Albany, where she’s verbally committed.

Before that, though, she has her sites set on the Meet of Champions both for this indoor season, as well as for the spring track season.