New Castle News

July 4, 2013

Male Athlete of the Year: Jon Yohman of Wilmington

Joe Sager
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — There was a time when one nail in the wall was good for Jon Yohman.

He used it to hang a gold medal in his bedroom.

However, that single nail became obsolete in a hurry. As Yohman capped his high school career at Wilmington, that wall became pretty covered.

“It’s a really cool thing,” he said. “I have a good collection of medals.”

Yohman earned all that hardware with the Greyhounds’ football team and track and field squads. He was a four-year starter on the gridiron and graduated as Wilmington’s most-decorated male thrower in the discus and shot put.

He’ll get a chance to continue his academic and athletic careers in the fall at Penn State University. He earned a track and field scholarship and will compete for the Nittany Lions in the throwing events.

“I am a small-town kid. Last year, I never would have guessed I would be going to a (NCAA) D-I school,” he said. “It’s a great reward for putting in all those hours.”


Yohman wrapped up his illustrious track and field career with another gold at the PIAA championships at Shippensburg University. He claimed the Class AA shot put championship and finished second in the discus.

Last year, that was reversed as he won PIAA gold in the discus and came in second in the shot put.

“Getting a gold this year in the shot was a great way to cap off my high school career,” he said. “I have a state gold in the shot and a gold in discus. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Yohman enjoys throwing both the shot put and discus.

“The shot and discus almost go hand in hand. I have always been equal in both, but I sort of strive more in the shot only because of my body structure. The discus is more of a lean thing, but I am really bulky, so that’s why I excelled more in the shot put consistently,” he said. “I can’t possibly say which one is my favorite. They both take a lot of dedication. You have to put in the hours; you won’t be handed anything. I just love to compete. That’s really what I look forward to – just the competition. That’s why I like them both.”

Yohman has excelled in competition. He captured District 10 championships in both the shot and discus the past two years. As a sophomore, he was second in both the D-10 meets and fourth at the PIAA championship.

He owns school records in the shot put (62-1) and discus (189-6). He set both marks in the spring.

“He has had a tremendous four years at Wilmington, really a tremendous six years. He owns almost all the shot put and discus records starting around fifth grade and up in the junior high program and set some pretty high standards back then. We knew he’d be really good at the varsity level,” Wilmington track and field coach J. R. McFarland said. “As strong as he was his freshman year, he continued to increase his strength. Technique-wise, he’d mature every year as he learned more about the throws. He is a unique athlete who has the ability to make quick adjustments to his body. It’s easier for him than most athletes.  He put in a lot of hard work to sharpen his skills in the throws.

“I believe he hasn’t reached his peak by any stretch. I think he has a great career to look forward to at Penn State. He really set a high standard for many athletes to come after him, not only in track and field but football as well.”

Yohman credits his brother, Paul — a former PIAA shot put champion — and the work of McFarland and throwing coach Brandon Phillian in refining his technique.

“They put in the hours, especially Coach Phillian. Our (team) practices were over at 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. and we’d be out until 8, 9 or 10 p.m. He doesn’t limit himself to his knowledge. If he doesn’t know about what I should work on, he’d talk to other coaches to see if they saw something,” Yohman said. “There was never a time in my career where we didn’t know what to work on. My technique always needed something. If not for him, I would not have become as good at throwing as I was.”


Yohman didn’t throw a football, but he did toss his opponents aside on the offensive and defensive line for the ’Hounds. He was a Region 3-AA first-team selection on both lines the past two seasons. In addition, he was named to the offensive line for the All-D-10 team as selected by the Erie Times-News staff.

“I think Jon’s main attribute is that he is so strong,” Wilmington football coach Terry Verrelli said. “He is quick and has good speed for his size. He has done a great job being a key role player on our team all four years. He just got better every single year. He just got stronger and stronger every year, too.”

Strength was apparent for Yohman right away. He became the first ’Hounds player to join the program’s 1,000-pound club, which involves bench press, squat and power clean.

“We’ve only had seven kids do it. Most of them reach when it they are a senior. He reached it when he was a freshman,” Verrelli said. “He is definitely the strongest player I have had in all the years I have been there. He just kept on growing, strength-wise. He is a hard worker in the weight room as well as on the field. He really concentrated on having correct form. He was a great leader for us as well as being super strong and quick.

“It’s nice to have older brothers who helped work with him, too.”

Lifting weights is a family tradition for the Yohmans.

“I’d say I just inherited it. My dad would always be lifting. I’d sit there and watch him, along with my brothers. My oldest brother, Paul, was real big into lifting. I just took to it. Luke was after Paul and I watched him and lifted with those guys. They took me in as one of their lifting buddies. They taught me everything I know,” Jon said. “My main goal is I want to be as strong and athletic as possible. That only benefits you. In my words, I need as much ‘horsepower’ as I could get. That only benefited me in both sports.”

High school football remains special for Jon.

“Deep down, I will always like football better. There’s no changing that,” he said. “It was more of a school spirit thing. It was a great atmosphere and everyone supports you and there are all those rivalries. If I had to, I’d pick high school football over high school track. I love both sports tremendously and I am glad I could compete in both of them.”


Yohman is looking forward to getting into the Penn State program. He chose the Nittany Lions over Connecticut.

“Whoever gave me the best feeling and whoever I thought had the best facilities was really big in my decision,” he said. “I am definitely going to be homesick. I am not scared to admit that. I don’t ever leave this small town. I just have to hit it running and get used to it as fast as I can.

“It leaves me speechless. You think high school will never end until it does. It hits you hard knowing that it’s all over. I never would have expected to go to Penn State or anywhere far away. I guess I am just a country boy. I am looking out into my fields right now. It’s just weird getting out of here. As a whole, Penn State is a country kind of school. They have the closest to what I could find of what I relate to. That’ll help me fight not being home sick.”

Preparing for the winter indoor track season will help Yohman fight off any homesickness.

“As of now, I am doing my own lifting. I have to start throwing the college implements, too. I will be practicing as soon as the school year starts, practicing for the winter indoor season and competing outdoors in the spring indoors,” he said. “I can’t wait to see how much I can improve going against the best. Either you break at that level or you get better. With the great coaching and facilities, hopefully that’ll work to my benefit and I will be the best I can be.”

Before he knows it, he might have to start clearing more space on another wall in his bedroom.

“Let’s see what happens at Penn State,” he said. “But, that’s the ultimate goal.”


PARENTS: Paul Yohman Sr. and Julia Goodge-Yohman

FAVORITE FOOTBALL TEAM AND WHY: Dallas Cowboys. “Around here everyone likes the Steelers. My mom is a very big football person and she loves the Cowboys and I just inherited it.”

FAVORITE FOOTBALL PLAYER AND WHY: Former Los Angeles Rams defensive end Deacon Jones and former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. “It’s hard to pick between Deacon Jones and Ray Lewis. They were thrown in the same boat in that, when they got in the NFL, people said they couldn’t make it big, but their heart carried over. They proved it doesn’t matter how big you are, but how big of a heart you have in order to succeed.”

 FAVORITE TV SHOW AND WHY. South Park. “It’s just really funny.”

FUTURE PLANS: Yohman committed to compete in track and field at Penn State University. A state champion in the discus and shot put Yohman will compete in those two events as well as the hammer throw at the collegiate level. He plans on majoring in athletic training with the intent to get a teaching degree and a certification to be a strength and conditioning coach. “I will be versatile when it comes time to get a job. I’d like to work at a college or high school. I would love to be a teacher, maybe a high school teacher (physical education and health) or a college strength and conditioning coach.”