Tony’s Time

TMB’s TONY NELSON reacts after learning that he is the new Class A shot put champion after dominating at Friday’s State Track & Field Meet at St. Michael-Albertville High School. Please see Page 6 for more coverage. Photos / Per Peterson

TMB’s Tony Nelson secures his place as the best shot put thrower in his class

By Per Peterson

If this football thing doesn’t pan out for Tony Nelson, it’s safe to say he would have a pretty good Plan B.

Nelson, a senior-to-be at Tracy Area High School and future University of Minnesota football player, shattered his own personal and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton school record with a long throw of 59’-2.25” at Friday’s Class A State Track & Field Meet at St. Michael-Albertville High School to win the Class A shot put title.

Nelson once again did his family, friends, community and school proud by completing one of the most successful spring sports runs in school history.

On May 10, less than a month after breaking the school’s 19-year-old shot put record with a throw of 54’-10”, Nelson did himself one better by hitting the 54’-11” mark. But that was nothing compared to what he pulled off at last Friday’s state meet when he broke 55 feet, then the 59-foot mark, on his way to the title.

“On Thursday night, I went down to his room and I said, ‘Are you nervous?’” Nelson’s mom, Sue, said. “So I prayed with him, and he said, ‘I’m just gonna do what I do.’ He was prepared. At this point in the season you can’t change things.”

What Nelson did was continue to elevate his game. The upward trend that began in May not only continued, it hit new heights that had the crowd gathered in the shot put area at state oohing and ahhing with every throw he made.

“I avoided looking at the crowd, because I knew how many people were going to be there,” he said. “I just tried to tune out everything. Everybody said the crowd got so much more quiet when I threw, I didn’t even notice. I heard everybody clapping after I got 59, but I knew I had two more throws. I needed to make all four throws count.”

Nelson was the first thrower to arrive in the shot put area Friday, getting the lay of the land so he could feel as comfortable as possible in all new surroundings by the time competition began.

“I just wanted to stay focused on what was in front of me,” he said.

Nelson’s throw of 59’-2.25” was the game-changer Friday, as his stiffest competition, Plainview-Elgin-Millville’s Leo Silha, had already scratched once going into his penultimate throw.

“I didn’t even know what the inches were — I just saw 59 and I was, like, ‘Whoa!’” he said. “But I just knew I had to stay focused, because I knew Leo was good.”

Nelson’s father, Terry, said he hoped that at the least, Tony would hit the 57-foot mark he did in practice.

“This is unbelievable,” Terry said. “It was a dream of mine to win state, and I never made it. To have him do it as a junior … I told him his goal should be to get 60 feet next year! I thought if he could do that next year … “

• The Class A shot put record is 62’-08”, set in 1996 by Hayfield’s Tim Senjem.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.