MACCRAY's Plante paces a spring bumper crop of area discus throwers
Present and past fused in an instant on the athletic fields at Benson on May 22. With a mighty effort, Joe Plante, a senior at MACCRAY, sailed the discus over the green grass behind the stadium. Event officials instantly taped the throw at 168-2....
Present and past fused in an instant on the athletic fields at Benson on May 22.
With a mighty effort, Joe Plante, a senior at MACCRAY, sailed the discus over the green grass behind the stadium.
Event officials instantly taped the throw at 168-2. As anticipated, Plante had broken the oldest record in the books in Section 3A-12.
This is no wimpy sub-section. The record holders are some of the elite names of track and field from the Tribune area: Dave Wik and Ed Heglund of Appleton-Milan, Greg Liebl and Pedar Arneson of Montevideo, Jon Hawley of Benson and Paul Benson of Granite Falls.
It was Benson's record that Plante shattered with his opening heave. Benson threw the discus 156-11 in 1959. The mark stood for 48 sub-section meets.
Plante's record-breaker proved to be only a warm-up pitch. His next five throws were all over 170, two over 180, topping out at 183-8. That throw ranks as the second-best reported, regardless of class, on the Raceberryjam.com site. The 2007 Class A state champion Micah Hegerle of Kasson-Mantorville has posted a 189-5.
Ironically, Paul Benson contributed indirectly to Plante's development as a discus thrower. After playing football for the Minnesota Gophers, Benson returned to his home town. He coached the Granite Falls football team that won a state title in 1977.
Years later, Benson offered to work with Rick Meyer (the Kilowatts didn't have a throw coach at the time) on Sunday afternoons. Meyer responded with a personal-best throw of 169-4 in 1987, a Tribune Area record unequaled until this spring.
On April 25 at Hamline University, Plante hurled the discus 175-10, topping his best by eight feet.
No one was happier when the record fell than Meyer, Plante's throwing coach.
Meyer, who also played football for the Minnesota Gophers, has coached and taught (senior high special education) for 15 years at MACCRAY.
"Joe has gifts," said Meyer. "He has the size, levers -- long arms and legs -- and he's quick, powerful and can explode."
Plante said his momentous series of throws at Benson left him "feeling lightheaded. It was crazy. My prayers were answered."
Plante started three years on the Wolverines football team. In the winter, he lifts weights and practices his shot put technique in the school gym at Maynard.
He started out in baseball, but admits he was bored and when a friend suggested he come out for track, he joined the team his freshman year. Plante caught Meyer's eye the next year with his throws, getting into the upper 130s.
Last spring, he got up to 162 feet in the discus and 52 feet in the shot put. This season, his best shot put is 55-7.
Area discus throwers have reached a historical high this spring. Wade Powers at New London-Spicer has a best of 171-8; Ryan Ackman of Litchfield shows a best of 169-7. With Plante, that's three of the four best throws listed for Class A.
Meyer said Plante's progress got a boost at the three-day Championship Throw Camp at Sioux Falls last summer. The senior athlete agreed.
"I learned to throw all over again," said Plante. "At first, you didn't think it would do any good, but by the end you could see it helped. Mr. Meyer came down for a day and hung around with the coaches so he understood what they'd changed. A lot of it was about form and speed."
Plante is 6-4, 240 pounds. His movements in the ring are smooth and purposeful with classic rotation.
"In practice, I go over footwork and try and get the most use of the legs," said Plante. "On competition day, you can't be thinking about your technique. That will mess you up."
Plante lives a mile north of Maynard with his parents Victor and Marsha, and his eighth-grade brother, Wyatt. He also has a sister, Angela, in college.
Joe said he's been contacted by Purdue and several Division II schools. He was told before the season that the big colleges are looking for throwers going over 180 (discus) and 60-feet (shot). Those figures became his goals.
Meyer concluded with a separate phone interview with this remark:
"He is probably a better person than he is an athlete. He's the kind of person you'd want in your community, school or church. I've had the good fortune to meet some impressive people in my athletic and professional career, but he's an unbelievable young man."