Aiming for the Sky

An athlete looks up into the sky and at the wide amount of land before them. They take a deep breath in before starting to spin, gradually getting faster and releasing the disc into the air as it goes flying. They watch it spin until it finally hits the ground. Nixa High School track and field field events have been under the radar during the spring season. While the team works together to break records, they grow as a whole. 

   Phil Wickwar has been head coach for discus and shotput for seven years, but has had experience coaching the events at a junior college in Texas. However, his interest grew more after shadowing head coach Lance Brumley during the spring.

   “I didn’t have much going for me in the spring,” Wickwar said. “It is more fun [than football] because it is intense in its own way.” 

   The intensity of the sport has Wickwar on his toes. With everyone individually weight training in the off season, Wickwar was able to make a schedule for both girls and boys discus and shotput teams during regular season. The schedule allows everyone on his team to make objectives for themselves.

   “The kids film themselves during practice and then come in for STAR to show me the video so we can have a real face-to-face talk about the video and what they could do better,” Wickwar said. “[Senior] Carter Krummen comes into STAR almost every day, so he is really trying to make those improvements for those competitions.”

   Senior Antonio Perez has competed in discus and shot put since junior high. Perez has shown promise in discus after winning second in discus at state. At state, he broke the school’s record and now holds the record at 168.7 feet. Perez continues to fight himself for a bigger prize.

   “I think our whole team is able to make it to state and beat some of their personal records while they’re there,” Perez said. “I am hoping to reach the 180s during the season.”

   With the past behind him, Perez keeps his six years of throwing as a learning experience heading into his final year. 

   “The mechanics of discus and shot put are really hard to get down when you first start,” Perez said. “With a 1.6 kg in your hand, you have foot work you have to work on for the best results and most people don’t see that while you’re competing or practicing.”

   Perez keeps up with his teammates on both teams and hopes all of them have a spot in state together.

   Junior Halle Hanna competes in shot put and discus. With her season still unraveling, she takes caution with each throw.

   “You have to be really careful, and understand where your arm is at all times,” Hanna said. “The shot weighs eight pounds and it takes a lot of stretching and understanding the limits of your arm.”

   Wickwar has high expectations for Hanna and the rest of the team while the season reaches its peak. 

   “We have the right equipment, the coaching staff for every team and event is amazing,” Wickwar said. “The team has amazing people, we have [Senior] Ashlyn Allison for discus and we have some freshmen that are showing some promise. I know they are going to do well during the regular season.”

   Track and field is currently preparing for the Central Ozarks Conference held at Carthage High School in hopes to advance to state in Jefferson City.

The girls of the Nixa discus watch their opponents during warm ups. (Lydia Cheek)