Reggie Jagers stepped into the ring and threw the 2K discus 55.97m, I turned to Justin Rodhe and asked ‘what round is this?’, he replied ‘5th’, I responded, ‘we should just give them 12 attempts’. That about sums up my feelings about the Big Weekend…I just didn’t want it to end!
In 2004 I watched a youtube video of Koji throwing the hammer in the olympics, that indoor season I tore through dozens of towels, swaddling shot puts within them and trying to throw them like hammers. Years later, in college, we would open our track seasons at Kent State University in December and I remember walking in and thinking ‘this is so big you could throw discus in here’. Almost immediately one of my teammate turns to me and said ‘you know they have discus meets in here?’. I was bummed to find out it wouldn’t be that meet but from then on I always wanted to compete at an indoor discus competition.
Years later I went on an interview here at Grand Valley State University and as I stood in the Kelly Family Sports Center waiting for my interview I thought, ‘we can throw discus in here’. As soon as I was hired, at our first staff meeting I put on our meeting agenda that I wanted to host a discus competition that winter, with me being hired in November it was a short turn around so we put it off until 2015.
Last year we had the first ‘Big Discus’ competition and an unreasonable amount of talent showed up to both the clinic the day of and the competition that night. It was unbelievable to me, astounding to me that we could get all these people together to do something like this…Norm Zylsta said to me that night ‘this might as well be the Indoor Discus National Championships’.
One year later we got the meet USATF Certified and had some of the top talent in world ask about competing. Andrew Evans contacted me about the idea before I even published the first commercial. From Portage Northern, not far from GVSU, Andrew competed at Kentucky and at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio with a Nasty Non-reverse he showed off at the competition this December, warming up over 63m Andrew placed second that night.
Alex Rose would win the meet for the second year in a row; a local kid from Michigan, he competed at Central Michigan University and would go on to earn Dual Citizenship for Samoa and compete in the 2016 Olympic Games as well. Alex is coached by Dane Miller, owner of Garage Strength and Earth Fed Muscle. Located on the east coast Dane Coaches Alex remotely through the internet in his barn where he works with other top athletes in Olympic Lifting, Football, Wrestling and the Throws. His most notable resident may be Sam Mattis; a discus thrower formally of UPENN, Sam is the American Collegiate Discus Record Holder and placed 3rd at our competition this past Saturday.
These three men alone warranted one of the best Discus competitions you can find these days, supplemented with top collegiate throwers we had a show. That’s one of the most vital components of our keeping our sport going; support. We had the local high school and masters coaches and athletes. We had people fly in from Texas, we had people drive 6 hours from Canada, we had Olympians, we had NCAA throwers, JUCO, NAIA, and we had their families and friends all wanting to come and do this thing and to do it right and have fun doing it as well…a highlight of the night featured James Plummer lighting up the competition with his electric bulb santa hat. Plummer and Rose both sported ugly chirstmas sweaters in competition. Also, I couldn’t tell if was done purposely or not but Reggie looked like a little elf with his green top and curled up throwing shoes.
In addition to the men who showed up we had women come in from Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois to compete in the elite and college divisions. We struggled to get women to compete at the meet this weekend, the standard response was that they would love to attend but they didn’t feel like they were ready to compete, Summer Pierson was a hair away from making the trip but couldn’t grab the funding necessary to fly in from California.
We talked extensively about this, about the overall lacking numbers of female discus throwers who train post collegiate, the difficulty of finances and performance consequences and some of the struggles that women specifically face when being a part of athletics. My response is to challenge you women to get together and show support of and for one another at a meet just like this; show each other you support one another, show yourself that you’re willing to sacrifice for yourself, show the other, young girls that you support them and that they can support you and if you do this I think you will find that if even for that one day it may not be that hard to get out of bed and train well that morning. You might also yourself help somebody else in the same way! The idea of this competition is greater than just how far you throw and who you beat…this competition and clinic is a force that keeps our wheels turning every winter…
Sunday, December 17th, 2017 will be the tentative date for Next Year’s Competition, I really hope we can show an increased presence of you great female athletes!
At the collegiate level we saw Katie Dewey and John Piatek win gold and at the high school division Jalah Morris and Sam Meece became the first ever Indoor Discus National Champions as well. Cole Belkwell traveled from Canada and competed in the International Division as did Jeff Kajtsa in the USA Master’s. If we continue to get competitors from outside the USA interested in competing this could very well evolve into a North American Championship or even possibly a World Championship event, but the only way that is going to happen is from the support of local, global, elite and average grade athletes, coaches and fans like you!
So, overall I loved the discus competition, it was fun, it was competitive, we ran it relatively smoothly and produced some good results. It was a great cap off to the two day clinic that featured Miller, Justin Rodhe and Sean Donnelly.
On Thursday Donnelly arrived to get some training sessions in and be reminded of our adventures in dining at the Mount Union cafeteria. Brisket, Pulled Pork, Sushi, etc…..he vlogged the whole thing so look out for that next week!
That Saturday Miller departed from Reading in a blizzard snow storm that added 2-3 hours to his drive to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Donnelly would present some information on Triphasic training principles to our clinic goers until Dane literally parked the van, stepped out and started presenting his ideas on Olympic weight lifting and it’s applications to throwing. Hopped up on caffeine and a 12 hour drive Miller gave a presentation for the ages, I don’t many other people passionate enough about anything to do what Dane did that day.
Following the lifting seminar we got a Slam Session in at the Turf Building followed by Cheese Burger Slam Session downtown. That morning I got to the facility at 7:00am and moved equipment around for 2 hours until I introduced Justin Rodhe to the massive crowd who attended the Big Clinic. Rodhe produced an introspective and interactive presentation with the audience on movement complexes to improve throwing before we broke off into the learn by doing segments. If you are located in North East Ohio or the midwest in general and you haven’t made a trip to Rodhe Sport you need to contact Rodhe now about how he can impact your training!
Rodhe had a good sized crowd of people with whom we worked on technical movements in the final along with special strength exercises. Dane had a slightly larger crowd with whom he had them fire of hundreds of full discus throws like howitzers. I would come up to Dane and ask if he needed anything, his response every time was ‘milk’. Donnelly had quite the strong presence in the hammer/weight/wammer department getting coaches and athletes alike in the ring to feel the forces of the different implements. One of the benchmarks of our clinic is that none of our guys were great throwers at young ages and it was only through great development were they able to achieve what they have so far in their career which includes appearances at the Olympics, Countless National Titles and a strong presence in the fabric of the throwing community.
After some time at the throws we ran a mutliweight shot competition which featured Olympian Taryn Suttie and former Penn State Star Rachel Fatherly who would narrowly beat our Suttie by 3cm for the title. on the Men’s Side Lucas Warning would win the outright title. The multi weighted shot comp would feature the athletes wearing Rodhe’s Shot Put Glove and competing with (for the men) 6K, 7.26K, 8K and 9K shot, women would throw 3K, 4K, 5K and 6K balls. 2 throws with each implement would be taken, furthest throw with each added together for a final score, highest total distance won.
During the shot put competition our clinic goers munched on sandwhiches and snacks made by Brittany Smith. Following lunch Dane performed another one of his patented ‘scared straight’ presentations. releasing brutally honest analysis of high school training and philosophies. This got our campers fired up and went out for another slam session, needless to say Dane got quite a few more throwers at his discus circle that afternoon.
Following throwing sessions with Rodhe and the like Donnelly presented to the high school athletes about how to get further into the world of hammer throwing and how it can effect their lives and futures. Donnelly was able to hold his own next to the firey Miller and stoic Rodhe. Knowledge bombs were dropped all day by these three and hopefully the throwers and coaches present were able to appreciate their impact…
That was the clinic, that’s the new standard and next year we are going to try and raise the bar again. We’re going to see where throwing goes this year and present ideas that December 16th and 17th 2017 on where throwing needs to go again, just like this weekend. We are going to host the Indoor Discus National Championships, once again. We are going to have the Multi-Shot Competition and new, next year, we are going to feature the Wammer National Championships.
Elite men will be throwing 35lbs hammers on half wires, High School Boys 25lbs and Elite and Non Elite Women 20lbs for distance. As we get closer we will release more information on the schedule, entry procedures and viewing information.
Again, Thank You for everybody who supported this event, it was only special because of your help.
Also Thank you to Garage Strength, Earth Fed Muscle, Rodhe Sport, Dominator Athletics and Grand Valley State University.
Below are the results from the competitions this weekend: