The general impression that shot put and discus success in track and field is the result of brute force could not be further from the truth.
“I tell the kids if they’re going to be a great competitor, they have to have a very relaxed spirit,” said Chewelah coach Pat Kostecka, who developed a lifetime love of the implements when he competed at Mead.
“People think you have to go hard, but that’s not the case,” he said. “You need to seek the rhythm and fall into that rhythm. You have to have a basketball player’s attitude, that looseness and fluid motion.”
He should know, having produced five discus and two shot put state champions. And none is more relaxed than three Chewelah shot putters and two discus throwers in the field of this weekend’s State 1A/2B/1B track and field championships at Woodward Field on the campus of Eastern Washington University in Cheney.
Call these comrades-in-arms – Will Lohman, Riley Nelson and Will Peters – the implement-throwing equivalent of the Three Musketeers.
They share that looseness on and off the field as the best of friends personified during district competition last Saturday at Freeman. The three stood out in the rain, back-to-back-to- back under an umbrella, laughing until it ceased so they could continue the task at hand.
Having competed with and against each since middle school, they say they battle like brothers and aren’t averse to sticking in the needle, but also have pushed each other to become better.
“We’re all a big family,” Lohman said. “He (Peters) is the rowdy one. Riley’s the mediator and I’m the older one. We have some great bonding times and other times we hate each other and get on each other’s nerves, because we’re around each other so much. Practice can get pretty heated and you get that atmosphere of competition.”
Lohman leads all classifications in state with a shot put of 61 feet, 5 inches and is third overall in the discus at 176-6.
The defending state champion in both events, Nelson (54-21/2) and Peters (52-7) are 1-2-3 among 1A shot putters in the meet that runs today and Saturday. Lohman and Nelson (165-11) are 1-2 in the discus.
They aren’t alone. The Northeast A League, allotted two individual berths per event in state, will have four shot putters and three discus throwers in the field. Newport’s Aaron Castle, 50-11 in the shot put, and Lakeside’s Paul Thomas, 156-8 in the discus, met the qualifying standard during district. Peters, who had thrown beyond the standard during the year, didn’t make it in the latter event. But he’s just a junior with another year remaining.
“You ought to see him throw the hammer,” Kostecka said. “He’s only been in one meet, but, oh, does he have a gift for it.”
Kostecka said Peters is the type of person people in Chewelah call on when they need work done. The coach said he’s the most jovial of the three, although Lohman was pretty outrageous in interviews and Nelson exhibited an understated sense of humor.
Peters was an all-league football player and state wrestling finalist. Throwing lineally, he improved more than 6 feet this year in the shot.
“I just like to horse on it and make it fly,” he said.
Nelson, who’s headed to Eastern, made similar jumps this season in his events, switching from lineal to the rotary shot put throwing style.
“I lost 60 pounds (down from 285),” Nelson said. “I was standing there one time, looked down and couldn’t see my feet and figured I had a problem. I took up the spin a little over a month ago.”
“Riley’s a kid with unbelievable potential,” Kostecka said.
Lohman’s potential has been in evidence for a long time. The all-state football player and state champion thrower will also continue on in the latter at college, either at Boise State or Idaho.
“He’s absolutely the hardest worker you’d ever see and is a 4.0 student,” Kostecka said. “That kid is absolutely dedicated.”
Lohman was a baseball player when he competed in a junior high meet at the behest of Kostecka.
“I got first in both and Coach ‘K’ said he’d make me a state champion,” Lohman said.
He said goodbye to baseball and basketball, trading it for weight lifting. Lohman has added 5 feet to his shot for the school record, but needs 10 more feet to get the discus school mark.
Kostecka’s love affair with the throws was instilled by Mead coach Gary Baskett.
“Honestly, if Gary hadn’t moved to Mead, you wouldn’t be talking to me right now,” he said.
The result has been a weight-throwing tradition the result of which means three relaxed-in-spirit Musketeers are headed to state.