The football season had just ended with a disappointing playoff loss, and Chris Reed wasn’t sure how quickly he wanted to transition to track and field.
But the first meet was less than a week away so the Minnesota State senir decided to compete. He grabbed the shot put and let it fly ... 61-feet-7 3/4, breaking his own indoor school record.
Turns out, it was an omen.
“I only practiced three days,” Reed said. “I was like, ‘Where did that come from?’ I started to think that this might be the year and I could do things I’ve wanted to do since I got here. It’s kind of surprised me.”
That surprising debut has continued into an unbelievable season for Reed, who seemingly breaks records with personal-best throws at every meet.
Two weeks ago, at a meet at the University of Minnesota, Reed extended his school record and broke the Division II record by throwing 65-5 1/2. Last week, he bettered that at the Minnesota State Open, throwing 65-10 1/4, now nearly a foot farther than any Division II thrower has ever gone.
He’s been named the national track athlete of the week the last three weeks.
He’s the E.F. Hutton of track because when he throws, others tend to stop and watch the hang time on his violent, yet majestic throws.
“I’ve now set higher goals for myself,” Reed said. “Now that I’ve hit 65, I’d like to hit 67. The next three weeks are important because I want to peak at nationals.”
Reed is an All-American in the shot put, discus and hammer throw in outdoor track, and he was the outdoor national champion in shot put last spring, throwing 65-7. He was runner-up at the indoor national meet last season, throwing 60-5.
Reed, who still has one season of eligibility in football, has been one of the mainstays in the Mavericks’ offensive line, starting 32 games over the last three season.
Reed trains a little differently for track than he does for football. His football weight training features lesser weight and more reps, while his track regimen focuses on more weight and fewer reps, with an emphasis on explosiveness. But the footwork drills and agility training carry over nicely from each sport.
There are three meets remaining before the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference meet, which will be held Feb. 28-March. 1 at Bemidji. He’s not going to compete Saturday at the Ted Nelson Classic, which is held at Minnesota State, because he wants to rest a sore elbow. His final home meet will be Feb. 15, and there’s another meet coming up the next week at the University of Minnesota.
The national meet is March 14-15 at Winston-Salem, N.C.
When he’s done next season, and after he graduates in December with a degree in sports management, he may have a chance to play professional football. If that doesn’t work out, he may continue with track, as throwers don’t generally hit their peak until they’re in their late 20s.
If he throws 65 feet again in the year leading up to the 2016 Olympics, he would qualify for the Olympic Trials. To make the Olympic team that travels to Rio de Janeiro, he’d likely have to throw at least 69 feet. But who knows what could happen if he concentrated his training on track and worked with one of the national coaches?
“I watch a lot of film, and there’s still a lot of things to learn and change,” Reed said. “There are a lot of little things I could do to make it go farther, but this has really reinforced my confidence. I’m stronger and faster, and I trust myself more. My first conference meet, I scratched on every throw, and I was always worried about scratching.
“I try not to think about the possibilities (in the future) because I’m trying to stay in the now and throw my best. But I may have opened some new doors. It’s kind of been unreal. It’s been a good season so far.”
Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.