by Graham Sturgeon Sturgeon, co-editor
Brady Hawks, who will begin his junior year at Laingsburg High School (LHS) this fall, finished second in the decathlon competition at the Region 5 USA Track & Field (USATF) Junior Olympics at Olivet College on Friday, July 6. Hawks secured 2nd place in the competition’s final event, the 1,500-meter run, and has now qualified for the USATF Junior Olympics that will be contested on Monday, July 23 and Tuesday, July 24 in North Carolina.
Brady entered the final event in 3rd place, and his father, Clint Hawks, estimated that Brady needed to run the 1,500-meter in five minutes to have a chance of overtaking the 2nd place athlete. Needing to make up approximately 21 seconds on the 2nd place athlete, Brady ran the 1,500 meters in 5:01, besting his challenger by a whopping 43 seconds. Brady is the only athlete from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia to qualify in the 15-16 and 17-18 age groups.
While all that is impressive on its own, even more noteworthy is that Brady decided to compete as a decathlete less than a week prior to the Region 5 USATF competition and had never even attempted several of the events is which he competed. As a member of the LHS track team, Brady has competed in every track and field event except for the 200 meter run and the throwing events. To compete as a decathlete, Brady had only days to learn how to throw a shot put, discus and javelin.
Clint, who competed in the high jump, hurdles and triple jump during his high school athletic career, was able to help Brady in his training, and the pair also enlisted the help of Brady’s former LHS track teammate Jonathan Schlaak and his cross-country coach Mal Balow. Brady and Clint also turned to the internet for assistance, where they found a javelin training video.
“Brady had to learn four events in the week prior to the competition, the long jump and the shot put, discus and javelin throws,” shared Clint Hawks. “It was tough getting some of the throwing equipment, but Brady’s teammates and coaches were more than happy to help him train. This really shows how great of a community Laingsburg is and the type of athletes that Laingsburg High School produces.”
Brady was able to win the high jump and 110-meter hurdles events at Olivet College, and he finished in 2nd or 3rd place in the other eight events. Despite leaving himself only one week to train for his first decathlon, Brady finished in front of other experienced decathletes.
“I have always had an interest in the decathlon, but I had never really thought seriously about competing before,” shared Brady. “I have competed in most of the track and field events and done reasonably well, so I thought I might as well give this a try. I certainly did not expect to do this well though. Coach Balow and Jonathan really helped me prepare and made me less nervous about the throwing events, which I had never done before.”
Clint and Brady credit the athletic instruction provided by LHS coaches for helping Brady develop into such a well-rounded athlete, but Brady’s experience playing multiple sports has also given him an advantage athletically. During his first two years at LHS, Brady has played baseball, basketball and soccer, and he has competed as a member of the track and cross-country teams. Brady’s extracurricular workload also includes activities such as band, jazz band, robotics, Quiz Bowl and Science Olympiad, so Brady has worked to build the diverse skill set he now possesses. Having tried all the sports that interested him, Brady has made the decision to narrow his athletic participation to only track and soccer – his best and favorite sports – for the last two years of high school.