Poplar Bluff's Josiah Kilgore signs to throw javelin at Southeast Missouri State
A knee injury ended Josiah Kilgore’s football career and limited the Poplar Bluff senior during the basketball season. In the spring, track was canceled before it even started due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Had a few colleges hitting me up and then I got hurt and everybody pretty much left,” said Kilgore of being recruited to play football in college.
“The only thing that saved me was last year with my javelin stuff. So I got a few clips and sent it out (and) a few colleges started texting me for track.”
Before last spring, Kilgore had never thrown the javelin, but he recently signed his National Letter of Intent to do it for the Redhawks at Southeast Missouri State University. Lance Bell, who was an assistant football and track coach for the Mules, had been trying to get Kilgore to throw the javelin since his freshman year. Kilgore ran sprints and helped Poplar Bluff’s relays qualify for state in his three years running.
“Javelin throwers that can run are really rare,” said Mark Barousse, Poplar Bluff head boys track and field coach. Kilgore said it took awhile to get up to speed in the event.
“When I started I was throwing maybe 70 feet and then I think it was midway through my junior season where I was actually starting off with a full run,” Kilgore said. “It takes time but once you get the hang of it, it’s kind of fun.”
He finished second at the SEMO North meet with a throw of 154-feet, 2-inches and threw 173-8 to win the MSHSAA Class 5 District 1 title. The following week at the sectional, his best throw of 153-5 was 10 1/2 feet short of qualifying for state. The Mules 400 relay placed 16th in the prelims at the state championships with Kilgore running a leg.
“Those guys are rare so I think when they end up matching his speed with his arm and he could stay healthy and just concentrate on the javelin, I think he’s going to do some good things,” Barousse said.
Kilgore suffered a knee injury playing football in junior high and was Poplar Bluff’s starting quarterback as a junior until an injury knocked him out of a game. He returned as a receiver and had four touchdown catches.
At the start of second game last fall, Kilgore injured his other knee leaping for a pass. He underwent surgery and missed the rest of the season and much of the basketball season.
“I just stayed in the fight, God helped me a lot,” Kilgore said of his recovery.
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Using video clips throwing the javelin from his junior year, Kilgore was able to get some interest from colleges. He said he chose Southeast because of the connection he felt talking with head coach Eric Crumpecker, who also coaches the throwers. “I feel like I needed to be close to home,” Kilgore added. “You never know what will happen.”
Said Barousse, “It’s just unfortunate he didn’t stay healthy and didn’t get to have a senior year.”
Both of Kilgore’s parents are teachers and he said he wants to pursue a degree in education.
“I just want to pour into the next generation,” he said. “Everybody will say they see me as a leader so I (would) like to if it will work out.”