VIROQUA — The best throw of Brad Walski’s discus career came under a tremendous amount of pressure Monday at the WIAA Division 2 Viroqua track and field regional.
And it may not count.
The Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School senior will have to wait on word from the WIAA today if his heave of 167 feet, 4 inches — which came after he was an awarded an extra throw in the finals because of a mishap in the preliminaries — will stand, or if his high school discus career is over.
Walski, the defending Division 2 champion in the shot put, qualified for sectionals in his top event with a toss of 55 feet, 9½ inches on his last throw of the finals.
But Walski, who finished fifth in the discus at the state meet last year, had his sights set on another pair of medals at state, and a throw of 167 feet at UW-La Crosse would put him in contention for one of the top spots in the podium.
“We feel he’s one of the better throwers in the state in Division 2,” G-E-T coach Doyle Smidt said.
The agonizing day for the Northern Iowa recruit started on his first attempt in the discus. The throw was a good one — probably not 167 feet, but good enough to qualify him for sectionals, if not win the regional.
Someone thought the head official for discus said “scratch,” meaning Walski fouled by stepping out of the circle, so the throw wasn’t measured immediately, as is protocol. By the time it was determined Walski didn’t scratch, the person responsible lost the mark.
“I stayed in the circle,” said Walski, who’s getting a half-scholarship to compete for the Division I Panthers. “There was a misunderstanding and they weren’t going to measure.
“That kind of got to me.”
Although he was awarded a “re-do,” Walski was shaken, and scratched on his next two throws before a toss of 114 feet barely got him into the finals. Having to throw toward the beginning of finals while still a bit rattled, Walski scratched on three straight throws.
“I thought my season was over,” Walski said. “I didn’t expect to get another chance.”
But Smidt and G-E-T throwers coach Rob Mahlum appealed to the field judge on his behalf, and Walski was awarded an extra throw — his seventh — immediately after the finalists competed.
“This is a little different than a regular track meet,” Smidt said. “There’s a lot more riding on it.”
That’s when he reached down and uncorked the 167-foot, 4-inch throw that bested his previous personal best by 4½ feet.
“He was down,” Smidt said. “He was very down. But to come back, mentally, to get himself back into it, that’s a credit to him, that’s a credit to Brad.”
Little did Walski know, though, an unusual day wasn’t over.
An opposing coach appealed that Walski shouldn’t have been awarded another throw. For the second time in a matter of hours, Walski’s discus career remained in limbo.
Smidt and Mahlum pleaded with anyone who would listen. Shortly after the final race of the day was completed, Smidt left a meeting with meet officials and gave a simple thumbs up to Walski, who was grasping a metal fence with his hands.
The sense of relief didn’t last long. The official results won’t be determined until the WIAA decides today whether or not to allow Walski’s final throw to count.
If it doesn’t, teammate Chandler Lamke, who finished fifth with a throw of 133-1, will advance.
However it turns out, Walski won’t likely face anything as mentally draining as Monday again.
“It was not a normal day,” Walski said after he won the shot put and before he knew of the appeal of his last discus throw. “I didn’t think it would end up like that.
“It wasn’t what I expected. I just have to forget about it.”