Marion senior Drew Clark concentrates as he makes his record-breaking throw of 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches during the 2009 Class 3A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)
DES MOINES — Marion senior Drew Clark’s only competition tonight was against himself.
And he still won.
Clark destroyed the shot put field with every throw at the Class 3A state meet. But it was his second toss that vaulted him from state champion to state legend.
Clark heaved the shot 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches, nearly two feet farther than the 32-year-old Class 3A record. It was the fourth-best throw in state history and the 11th-best throw nationally this year.
Defending champion Brandon Scherff of Denison-Schleswig finished second with a throw of 57-3 1/2, more than 7-4 shorter than Clark’s best toss.
“Actually the state title has been elusive to me the last two years,” Clark said. “When I was a sophomore, I had my best throw I had that year, and I ended up getting second. And last year, Brandon Scherff got me on his last throw. I kind of struggled that day — the tensing up got me on that — so I just wanted to stay loose.”
Clark warmed up at West Des Moines Valley High School on Thursday. He stayed loose by singing to himself. He felt good entering Friday’s competition.
“Shoulder separation is like the main thing that gets guys hurt at state, tensing up,” he said. “My first warm-up throw I could tell it was going to be a good day. My forearm was kind of tight and that helps me out a lot. That way you can get the snap off your fingers.”
Clark took a low-key approach to his first throw, and hit 61-6 1/2.
“I knew it was going to be big next because he takes a safe throw his first throw just to make sure he’s in,” said Drew’s father, Chuck, who’s in his 25th season at Marion’s throwing coach. “So I knew big things were coming.”
With a solid throw in early, Clark unleashed his second effort. His approach was intense. He shouted as his released the shot. Event officials conferred and marked the spot twice just to ensure it was a record.
“I think my dad was the first one that knew,” Clark said. “He threw his hands up.
“The first throw I always like to take it easy and get one in. And so I crank it up with the second throw.”
Clark didn’t taper off as the event progressed. He hit 60 feet in each of his three throws in the finals. His last toss of 63-7 would have set the state record by nearly 10 inches.
He impressed his competitors as well. Among the finalists include future Iowa football teammate and roommate Brett Van Sloten of Decorah and future Iowa basketball player Brennan Cougill, who finished fifth.
“Geez, that’s an accomplishment,” said Van Sloten who finished third. “I feel so good for him. If another man can win, I’d love to see him win it. He’s such a nice guy. Sixty-four, that’s incredible.”
Vinton-Shellsburg’s 4×200 relay team finished third in 1 minute, 30.56 seconds, just .04 seconds out of second place. Anchor runner Trevor Walker started the final 200 in third place.
“After the corner, we were first,” said Walker, a senior. “Then it was just tight as possible at the end.”
In other 3A events, Washington senior Casey Negrete finished third in the 400 hurdles in 55.06 seconds. Waukon’s distance medley relay team finished fourth in 3:36.03.