Versatility 101- TCA student Nate King has redefined the meaning of versatility in sports, capturing honors in shot put and high jump, while his true love lies in playing basketball. He plans to continue his athletic pursuits in college, perhaps even taking on the decathlon in the process. Photo courtesy TCA

Versatility 101- TCA student Nate King has redefined the meaning of versatility in sports, capturing honors in shot put and high jump, while his true love lies in playing basketball. He plans to continue his athletic pursuits in college, perhaps even taking on the decathlon in the process. Photo courtesy TCA

By Tony Haneman | Correspondent

In the history of New Jersey high school track and field, it may have never happened before.  And in the future of New Jersey high school track and field, it may never happen again.

What Trenton Catholic Academy’s Nate King accomplished at the NJSIAA Non-public B track and field sectional and state championships defies belief.  In a stunning display of power and strength, King captured two separate titles, in two completely opposite disciplines: a sectional title in the shot put, and a state title in the high jump. 

In the process, King helped the Iron Mikes to a third-place sectional finish, and a fourth-place showing in the state meet.

To put what he did in perspective, imagine Lebron James winning Olympic gold in basketball… and the 1500 meter run (the metric mile). 

“It must be the coaching,” joked Iron Mikes head coach Gary Zottoli. He then got serious about the type of person King is. 

“He is probably one of the top three most dedicated athletes on the team.  He never misses practice,” he said. “He has a unique combination of being able to throw and jump.  He’s hanging in with most of these football-type throwers.”

Indeed, the senior standout, at 5’10”, 195 pounds, doesn’t look much like a big, stocky shot putter or a tall, slender high jumper.  And to top it all off, his first love is basketball. 

As an occasional starter, he played an instrumental part in the Iron Mikes’ basketball success this past year, and was part of the tournament of champions winners of ’10.  He can practically dunk a basketball with two hands from a standing jump.  Further proof of his versatility - he was the Mercer County CYO 100 meter dash champion of 2008.

“Everything in track was a good way to stay in shape,” the modest King said this about his track exploits. “I’m still a basketball player at heart.”

King found most satisfaction in his state high jump title, because, as he said with a smile, “I beat Chazz!”  Chazz Patterson is his TCA teammate in both track and basketball, and the 2010 outdoor state high jump champion.

King will attempt to walk-on in basketball at division one Hampton University in Virginia, but hopes to stay involved with track, and maybe even participate in the decathlon.

Zottoli summed up his opinion of King. 

“He is an excellent kid, which is more important than his athletic skills. In my book, that stands for a lot,” he said. “By his work ethic, he is (going to) be very successful in life, besides sports.”

Watch out, Lebron!