…when she hears some guy standing behind her talking about shot putting. She strikes up a conversation with him, and while they converse my daughter sends me a text (I was home, teaching and coaching and slaving away so that my girls could enjoy a nice long weekend in Orlando but I am in no way bitter about this). The text said…”We are in line for a beer at Germany and there is literally a young Arnold Schwarzenegger behind us. He could be a world class thrower and is with a group of guys that could be your throwers…It’s hilarious.”
(When she said that they “could be your throwers” I assumed she meant that they were afraid of girls and could not stop talking about food and video games, but she left out the specifics.)
Anyway, it turns out that this “young Arnold Schwarzenegger” was none other than NCAA indoor shot put national champion Stipe Zunic.
And when my wife (her name, by the way, is Alice Wood) sent me this photo, I realized that it was time for me to check in with Stipe’s coach, Steve Lemke.
The shot competition at the NCAA outdoor meet should be flat out epic. Here are the NCAA leaders at this point in the season:
To put this in perspective, my good friend Shawn Schleizer finished 8th at the 1994 NCAA Outdoor Championships with a toss of 18.43m. That would place him 48th on the above list.
Which makes me wonder what kind of human beings Mother Nature is creating these days as Shawn, even at his advanced age, could walk into a weight room right now, snatch 100k, and punch out an entire motorcycle gang.
But I digress.
Stipe, it turns out, is doing quite well, thank you very much. His outdoor best of 20.38m has him fourth on the leader board behind Ryan Crouser, Derrell Hill, and Jonathan Jones. And he has put a pulled quad, an early-spring bout of the flu, and a determination to finally visit Disney World for the first time after residing in Florida for five years behind him.
Also squarely in the rear view mirror is his once-thriving career as a javelin thrower.
Stipe and Coach Lemke had discussed the possibility of of taking one final crack at chucking the spear, but neither the SEC nor the NCAA championship schedules line up correctly for a young man wishing to pull off the rare jav/shot double.
According to Coach Lemke, this is just as well because Stipe’s body is “no longer built for the javelin.”
I can relate.
Stipe is certainly built to put the shot, though, and after checking one lingering item (“visit to Disney World” ) off of his bucket list he is ready for the next challenge: face down a ferocious field to claim his first NCAA outdoor shot put title.