Finishing strong: Thoreson, Willer lead Jays to West Region meetJordan Thoreson and Nathan Willer aren’t too concerned about where they place at the Class A state meet. The Jamestown High School throwers are more focused on besting their personal records and if it’s still not good enough to place high at state, so be it.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Jordan Thoreson and Nathan Willer aren’t too concerned about where they place at the Class A state meet.
The Jamestown High School throwers are more focused on besting their personal records and if it’s still not good enough to place high at state, so be it.
“I wouldn’t care,” Thoreson said.
The two seniors serve as the only state-qualifiers for the Blue Jays, who are hoping to add a few more at today’s West Region meet in Bismarck.
Thoreson placed third in the shot put last season with a mark of 49 feet, 11 inches — one inch shy of his goal. Even then, his feelings toward state-placing were the same.
“Last year, I said I wanted to hit the 50-foot mark at state. Then I threw 49-11,” Thoreson said. “I was very frustrated. This year, I thought I would have it.”
Thoreson threw 48-10 at the Al Cassell Relays on Saturday, his best of the season. His other state-qualifying mark was an inch shorter at the Packer Relays on May 5.
Hindering Thoreson’s progress has been shoulder problems. He stopped playing football after his freshman year due to a bad left shoulder that led to surgery. Last summer, he “bumped” his right shoulder — Thoreson’s a righty — at a basketball camp and that also ended in surgery.
And while the pain is largely gone, it’s still not the same.
“You can just tell everything in my shoulder is not like it used to be,” Thoreson said. “Every time I release out, there’s one spot you can feel is tight.”
Still, Thoreson is confident he can reach his goal. He’s accomplished it a few times during practices this season. But even he admits that it may take a much farther throw to repeat third place. Only Dickinson state champion Justin Dvorak threw better than 51 feet at the state meet last year and six have surpassed that mark on the state-qualifying list this season.
“I don’t know about this year,” Thoreson said. “There’s a lot better throwers out there.”
Thoreson’s finish as a junior created expectations, something Willer can attest to, having placed eighth in the discus.
He’s also striving to beat his personal best — 157 feet. He reached the mark at the Al Cassel Relays last season. He has yet to duplicate the toss, but said he feels like he’s peaking at the right time.
“I feel like I’ve been hitting (my throws) consistently to where I’m at a good spot that a big one’s on its way,” Willer said. “I just haven’t had the right wind or it’s always just something that happens.”
Unlike Thoreson, Willer’s ultimate goal is going to take some extra might. He wants to set the school record, but that would take him surpassing 171 feet.
“It’s possible because it’s only a 14-foot PR,” Willer said. “But I’ll be happy getting into the 150s. I tend to throw better when I’m with better competition.”
Willer, who signed with Jamestown College to do basketball and track and field, didn’t start out as a thrower. But the high jumper developed shin splints as a freshman and suffered through it as a sophomore. He high jumped sparingly last season before giving it up his senior year.
Regardless, the two athletes found their niches, coach Ken Gardner said.
“You see that with a lot of the bigger guys; the throws were kind of meant for them,” he said. “We’re hoping we get more and more linemen and linebackers out from the football team to develop that.”
Gardner said the Jays are hoping to get their relays qualified. With only nine teams in the West Region, the top six finishers at the region meet qualify for state.
“It kind of depends on how we configure those,” Gardner said. “We’ve got some athletes and we’ll put them in the relays. We’ve certainly got a shot there.”
On the girls side, Alison Allmer’s time of 2 minutes, 19.63 seconds in the 800-meter run stands as the best in the state. She’s fourth in the mile with a 5:14.54.
The Jays have qualified in the 400 and 1,600 relays, but are looking to make state — by time or place — in the 800 and 3,200 relays.
McKayla Orr has qualified in the 100, 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles, the latter of which she has the fifth fastest time in the state, though she sits in third as a participant in the event.
Freshman Beka Hilgemann hit the qualifying mark in the javelin, which features arguably the smallest pool of qualifiers at nine. As a participant, she’s eighth.
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com