State track preview -- First time could be a charm for Plainville throwers
By NICK McQUEEN
No one could probably argue the athleticism, nor the strength, present in Plainville High School standout wrestler Dylan Wiesner, the 170-pound state champion in Class 3-2-1A this winter -- and 160 runner-up in 2013.
What he found out this spring with the Cardinal track and field team, though, in his first season in the event, competing in the javelin takes a lot more than just being a natural athlete.
"I've learned a lot," said Wiesner, who picked up a javelin for the first time to compete in the event this year. "There's so much form that goes into it. It's not all muscle.
"You can't just pick it up and just launch the thing," he added. "It takes good form, and a good coach, like we have in T.J. Staab."
Staab also convinced standout basketball player and Plainville starting quarterback, Hadley Gillum, to get back into track this spring. Gillum, who threw the event some in junior high, enters the 2A state finale as the regional discus champion.
"I had the basics down coming in," said Gillum, who is headed to Fort Hays State University in the fall to play basketball. "Coach Staab worked with me on every little thing. Not a ton of stuff changed, but he just got me where he wanted me."
Gillum and Wiesner highlight a group of first-time state qualifiers for the Cardinal boys, a program under coach Norma Finnesy that has produced the last two state title teams in 2A, and a third-place showing three seasons ago.
"The say it's about the biggest stage you can get in high school," said Wiesner, who will wrestle next year at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. "I'm pretty excited about that, to be able to perform on the big stage, especially with our 4x4 team.
"We have a really good shot at winning it."
That 1,600-meter relay team consists of -- including alternates -- freshman Sam Kaup, freshman Hayden Friend, Wiesner, senior Quinn Dewey and junior Kolt Newell. They were second in last week's 2A regional in Smith Center, and are seeded second.
"It will be nice," Wiesner said of the possibility of a team trophy. "Wish we would have all done track a little earlier. For a group of guys that are kind of out for track for the first time -- it's not too bad."
Wiesner set a goal of throwing 150 and simply qualifying for state. But when he surpassed 152 feet early in the season, he set a loftier goal -- 180. He's been trying to reach that ever since.
"I threw a little discus through junior high and what-not, but this is his first time throwing the javelin," Gillum said of Wiesner. "That's just incredible what he's doing. He's been putting in the overtime hours. It's really working for him. He's an exceptional athlete."
After a regional title at 162-4, Wiesner is seeded fourth in the event, but threw 169-7 at the MCL meet.
"Just getting form down," he said. "At first, I just picked it up and chucked, but once I started to work on foot work and stuff, it became more difficult. Starting to come together pretty well."
Gillum has enjoyed similar success in the discus, though not competing in the event since junior high. He uncorked a 2A-best and school-record throw of 175-0 midway through the year, on what he called a "great conditions" day.
"That helped," said Gillum, the two-time Player of the Year on the HDN All-Area basketball team. "I think I'm a better thrower than I was then. I think I can do that if things come out right -- just make sure the throw comes out perfect from start to finish.
"I think I've got it in me," he added.
Gillum won the regional at 153-7, and is the No. 2 seed behind Montezuma-South Gray's Jake Peters (157-2).
"It was raining pretty good so not really great conditions (at Smith Center) -- rain was really slick," Gillum said. "A little earlier in the season I told (Staab) I had pretty high expectations, and he just said 'You know, there are going to be conditions. Some days, it's not going to be that good, some days it's going be great. You just need to throw what it takes to win the thing.' That's all I was looking for."