MOUNT VERNON — The shot put and the discus have been a part of sports almost as long as there has been sports in the civilized world. The art of hurling these two ancient objects skyward, however, is as different as night and day.
These are two sports that cause an athlete to channel his strength in different ways.
To heave the shot requires more brute strength. The slinging of the discus requires more speed and finesse.
Most hurlers would be happy to master one of these. To be the best at both is a very lofty goal, indeed.
This weekend, Mount Vernon hurler Lucas Ferguson will have a chance to reach his goal of being No. 1 in Division I in both events at the Ohio High School Track and Field Championships at Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus.
Ferguson, for his part, is relaxed and ready to go. There’s no more grueling practices left.
“I’m not really balancing much of anything at this point,” said Ferguson. “It’s just being quick in disc and strong in shot, basically.”
His next serious throws will be in Columbus.
“He’s got to do them both (discus and shot) on Saturday,” said Mount Vernon track coach Jim Lindsey. “He’s got to do them very well at the same time. It says a lot for a young man like that.”
Placing as an All-Ohio athlete last year, Ferguson has come right back as a senior to take first place in the shot and discus in the regionals this year. His success in the post-season has come despite a bumpy regular season.
“At the beginning of the year, I missed the first two meets because I was hurt,” said Ferguson, who battled a partially torn muscle early in the season. “That didn’t help matters any. I feel like I’m back up there, though. I’m not really hurt anymore.”
This is the last meet of Ferguson’s high school career so expect the unexpected.
“This is my last chance,” he said. “I’d like to see 185 to 190 (feet) in discus and anywhere from 50 to 60 in shot.”
Ferguson has accomplished much with the help of Lindsey, along with former head track coach Steve Hill and his daughter, Lindsay Hill.
“Lindsay has been to state a couple of times in discus and she was taught by her dad,” said coach Lindsey. “Steve also taught Lucas and now, it’s come full circle and (Lindsay) is teaching Lucas, too.”
Lucas is certainly a willing student with a simple philosophy.
“Practice,” he said. “Lots of it.”
With multiple state and national tournaments behind him, don’t expect anything at this state tournament to rattle Ferguson.
“I’ve been there and realistically, I’ve done it all,” he said. “I was a little nervous last year, because I was going there in second place. The higher you go in, the worse it is for you.”
One thing is for sure: Ferguson will be the man to beat on Saturday.
“Lucas is the first male, three-time state qualifier for this school,” said Lindsey. “Having been to state three times, everybody knows him. That really puts Mount Vernon on the map. That’s what I’m really proud of.”