No. 59 on the field, No. 1 in our hearts

A dapper Tony Nelson and his teammates walk to the season-opening game at Huntington Bank Stadium. Submitted photo

A year ago, after becoming the new Class A state shot put champion, Tony Nelson returned home to relax a little and prepare to defend his title as he got ready for his senior year at Tracy Area High School.

This year, just days after he successfully defended that title, he headed to the Twin Cities to start a new path as a member of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team.

“I threw shot (at state) on June 9th and threw discus on June 10th,” Nelson said. “Then I left.”

So began a whirlwind of a summer for the 2021 TAHS graduate, who earned a full ride scholarship to the U of M. The months leading up to the season starting included taking a sports-specific Intro to College class and getting cleared medically to play.

“They had to make sure everything was good,” he said. “Other than that, it was lifting and conditioning.”

Fall camp started at the beginning of August for Nelson and his new teammates. Camp was six, sometimes seven days a week, and ran from 6-7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“First, we would do morning coffee, which is actually not morning coffee at all — it’s a stretch workout to get ready for the day,” Nelson said. “After that, we’d go eat, then have meetings, then practice, then eat again, and after that it was more meetings, then either lift or have another practice. Then it was more food after that, then meetings until 10.”

For more on this story, see this week’s paper!