Conner Hoelzel just wanted to make regionals. Plain and simple.
The Canfield senior had his sights set on the Division I Austintown regional track and field meet. Making it past the Austintown regional was his goal.
Today's shot put event at the state meet - it wasn't in his thoughts.
Hoelzel had one more throw in the regional finals, coming in sixth. Only the top four advanced to state. With one last attempt, Hoelzel threw himself into the state meet and third place at the regionals with a distance of 53 feet, 11.5 inches. It was his personal best.
The nerves Hoelzel experienced didn't appear like they did most of the season.
"That was a different mentality than I've ever had before," Hoelzel said. "I honestly never felt like I did during that throw. I know one of the thoughts that came through my mind before that was, 'This could be my last throw ever.' After that, it was like, 'Let's do it right.' I just cleared my mind, felt real relaxed. I thought the best way to carry that over was to just understand this is going to be my last meet, no matter what and just make the most of it."
Hoelzel has made the most of his time at Canfield. Here's an athlete who thought his sports were football and boxing. Hoelzel is playing football for the College of Wooster in the fall and was a four-time K.O. Drugs Boxing champion.
Then, ironically enough, at the 2010 state meet, Hoelzel saw former Canfield thrower Dustin Brode make history with a 71-7.5 throw - a state record that stands today. It's the best throw in all three divisions.
"Seeing him throw at the state meet, that really changed my view on the sport," Hoelzel said.
Brode mentored Hoelzel and the two still even stay in touch. Brode even critiqued a tape Hoelzel sent him of his throws.
"He was giving little pointers," Hoelzel said.
Canfield throws coach Nick Wagner, who also coached Brode, changed Hoelzel's throwing motion this indoor season. In fact, Hoelzel threw in four meets and primarily worked on his motion and barely threw. He went from a half spin to a full spin inside the throwing circle.
"All we did was work on footwork," Wagner said. "We didn't want to burn out and peak early."
Hoelzel has far from peaked. In fact, Wagner said he best throw might be today.
"I believe his has a 55 in him," Wagner said.