At the beginning of the indoor track season, Athan Huelskamp ’20 set three ambitious goals for himself: make state, break the school records in shot put and discus, and get noticed by college coaches.
Turns out, he’s on track to meet all three.
Already this season, Athan broke a 29-year old record in the shot put, set in 1990 by John Bailitz, and he is less than three feet away from breaking Saint Viator’s discus record of 173 feet. Ironically, it was set in 2005 by Paul Costello, who now has returned to his alma mater to coach the discus and shot put throwers.
“I was happy to have the opportunity to coach someone who was clearly taking throwing seriously,” says Costello, who is a CPA and works with his brother, Robert ’02 in running Costello Financial Planning. Their mother, Mrs. Kate Costello, teaches theater at Saint Viator.
“Those numbers are impressive, but his shotput increase for one season is insane,” Costello says. “I’ve never seen such a jump, and yet his best throws in discus have yet to be seen at a meet.”
Athan transferred to Saint Viator before his sophomore year, after his family moved here from Kansas. He went out for the football team, where he quickly made friends and caught the coaches’ eyes for his size and footwork, before signing up for track.
He first picked up the discus in sixth grade and by eighth grade he was winning meets. However, his small high school in Hutchinson, KS did not have a coach, consequently he was pleased he says to see a strong track program at Saint Viator led by 16-year head coach, Rodero Warren.
After one season as a sophomore, Athan qualified for state in the discus and ultimately placed 13th. This year, he has his sights set higher and he works every day at practice improving his agility, strength and quickness.
“I do a lot of reps, I probably do 30 practice throws a day, lift weights and run sprints for quickness,” Athan says. “Adding quickness helps me with the explosiveness you need coming out of the circle.”
He also is working on his flexibility, as well as his core muscles to give him good balance as he spins at the start of each throw.
“You really have to reach your arm way, way back to build torque,” Athan says of his flexibility.
Athan credits his improvement to Costello, who began working with him this season.
“He breaks things down and is very technical,” Athan says. “I like that. It makes it easier to translate that into my throws.”
Athan and the team will compete at the ESCC championships on May 8 at Marist High School, before they begin their quest for state, starting with sectionals on May 15 at Richmond Burton High School. The IHSA state championships open May 23 at Eastern Illinois University.
Oh, and as for his last goal, of getting noticed by college coaches, he’s able to check that box too. Athan hopes to continue throwing the shot put and discus in college.
“That’s the plan,” he says with a smile.