HARMONY — Zach Gehm isn't taking the summer off.
Make no mistake, the 2018 Seneca Valley graduate is having fun in the sun, just of a different sort.
Gehm, who recently completed his freshman year at Youngstown State University, competed in and won the men's discus June 22 at the USATF U20 Outdoor Championships in Miramar, Fla.
The effort earned for him a spot at the Pan-American Games, scheduled July 18-21 in Costa Rica. There, Gehm will compete against the best that North and South America have to offer.
He had previously said that wearing the colors of the United States had been a dream of his for some time.
“I got all of my U.S. gear before I left Florida. When I got back to my dorm room at YSU, I put everything on and thought to myself, 'This is finally for real.'”
The competition in Florida included six throws for Gehm. After fouling on his first attempt, he surpassed his previous best mark with a throw of 54.98 meters. He then increased that distance on three straight attempts, culminating with a 60.31 on his fifth attempt.
He had initially taken the lead from Josh Sobota on his fourth throw, which yielded 58.67.
“I felt good in warmups and my (early) throws were good, but I knew I could do better,” said Gehm. “I stepped in for my fifth throw and said to myself, 'This is what you've been training for all year. Let's put this in the bag.'
“I actually thought my best throw of the day was my sixth, but the wind just died. I think I hit 59 with that one.”
In Costa Rica, Gehm will be joined by Sobota, who placed second, 2½ meters behind.
The former is not resting on his laurels. He reached one goal and has simply set another one for himself.
“Nobody is going to Costa Rica looking to see some old friends,” he said. “Everyone goes to win, they're training to win. I brought a lot of good energy in Florida, but I didn't have the best technique. I'm going to continue working out, lifting and training. If I can go down there and compete to the best of my ability, good things are going to happen.
“My goal is to get better by five percent every time I go out.”