By CONOR NICHOLL
Madison Wolf became sick during the winter of her senior year at Class 2A Bennington High School. Wolf told her track coach she didn't want to run, and, on a whim, decided to throw javelin. Wolf threw around 89 feet at the first meet and asked her coach that if she threw over 100 feet, could she stop running? Wolf threw 104 feet the next meet.
Wolf won the state title with a mark of 137-9 and took second in the pole vault with a 10-foot clearance. Wolf eventually did run on the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays, which each finished eighth at state. Wolf, a freshman, decided to throw at Fort Hays State University.
"Thought I would go on and do it in college," Wolf said.
Tiger throwing coach Andreas Maheras wasn't aware of Wolf until he received a call last May while waiting for a plane at the airport to go to his native Europe. The 6-foot Wolf came to FHSU with long arms, athleticism and plenty of natural ability.
On Friday, Wolf displayed her talent in her first collegiate meet at the Alex Francis Classic at Fort Hays State University. On her first collegiate throw, Wolf uncorked a toss of 147 feet, 8 inches to win the competition. The throw is a NCAA Division II provisional mark and less than five feet off the automatic standard.
"She is a tall lady, she has a nice arm and that's a good plus," Maheras said. "One negative that she has is that she is not very strong, but in javelin, you can get by with not too much strength. It's not like in the shot. We feel confident. I feel confident."
After the throw, Wolf was so new to the collegiate level that she was uncertain how to exit the javelin ramp.
"Probably pre-meet nerves," Wolf said. "Was being goofy."
Wolf could be the next great Tiger thrower. FHSU has enjoyed a long tradition of throwing success, including last season with javelin throwers Makayla McPhail, Holly Brown and shot put/discus thrower Max Alonso.
Brown was a national qualifier in the javelin last spring, while McPhail was a two-time national runner-up and school record holder. Alonso earned multiple All-American honors and set a MIAA championships and school record in the discus last year.
McPhail, a 4.0 grade-point average student, had a year of eligibility remaining, but elected to end her athletic career and attend a doctorate program at Wichita State University.
"Don't have any protégés," Maheras said. "I was looking for one. We found one --I think. She is probably one of the best on the whole team."
Wolf had a goal to clear 140 feet. She threw at least 139-3 on each of her first four throws before she fouled on her fifth throw and scratched on her sixth and final throw because of some arm pain. Wolf is aware of McPhail's success and marks, including a school mark 160-9.
"She has longer levers and now she has to work on her technique even better," Maheras said. "When she came here in the fall, she didn't know much, it was all arm. Now, it's a little bit natural arm, plus some technique - and we have got a way to go. When she puts it together, I cannot predict anything, but I definitely see some nice distances."
Tien delivers big vault
Junior Brady Tien, a Logan graduate, went 16-2 in the pole vault at the MIAA indoor championships. His teammate, senior Brett Ottley, of Victoria, vaulted 15-10. The new personal bests allowed the two to qualify for the indoor national meet.
Tien still believed he could improve -- and set another personal record at nationals when he went 16-4.75 on his third and final attempt to tie for sixth and collect his first All-American honor.
"At nationals is where I felt like I could be," Tien said.
Tien has benefited from moving from a 15-6, 170 pole to a 15-6, 180 pole, which shoots him higher in the air.
During spring break, Tien worked hard with lifting and conditioning. Then, Tien delivered a personal record for a third straight meet when he cleared 16-6.75 on Friday. Tien set a provisional record by nearly a foot and came within three inches of the automatic standard.
"It was good that it came together at nationals, and it was a good start for outdoor season, that's for sure," Tien said.