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Detroit Lakes’ Nielsen wins Class 2A discus state title

Jay Nielsen capped his Detroit Lakes athletic career on top with a Class AA state championship discus throw Saturday, June 9 at Hamline University in St. Paul. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL -- Detroit Lakes senior Jay Nielsen defended his top seeding in the Minnesota Class 2A state discus throw, capturing the state championship with a throw 166 feet, 8 inches in wet conditions Saturday at Hamline University.

“It’s awesome,” Nielsen said. “I didn’t know if that would be enough, but I stuck it out.”

The second flight of preliminary throws was interrupted three throws into the second round by lightning and a mandated delay that lasted 45 minutes.

Nielsen marked at 166 feet before the delay, making the wait much easier to tolerate.

“I’m glad I got a mark before. That definitely helps you out going into the break, feeling all right,” Nielsen said. “It doesn’t really matter what happened after. I got a good mark, at least, so I could have some fun when I got back out there.”

Nielsen’s practice session Friday was in the rain, so he was prepared for the conditions.

“There was a wet ring yesterday, so I got comfortable with that,” Nielsen said.

His team of coaches were all about making the situation comfortable as well. Nielsen and his entourage had a trip to Dave & Busters to “get mentally prepared” and took in a Twins game. Keeping loose and stress-free was part of the process to bring home a state championship.

“Just be who you are,” DL throws coach Josh Omang said. “We don’t try to come to these meets and be super serious. We’ll joke around with him between throws. The higher the stress the more normal you’ve got to be.”

The conditions were definitely abnormal and had an obvious effect on some competitors. Nielsen was consistent with his throws, ranging from 158 feet to his winning distance with one foul. As far as execution, Nielsen did not change his approach or his attitude.

“It got slippery but they kept it dry, as much as they could,” he said. “It could have been a lot worse, definitely.”

According to Omang, that attitude and the ability to adapt is what set Nielsen apart during his Laker career - his capacity to remain calm under stress and consistently perform.

“He works so hard and we use him as an example for those young guys a lot because he just gets out there and performs,” Omang said. “He gets out there and he just works and doesn’t complain. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, cold. It’s fun to see that, because as a coach you talk about that all the time - how hard work is going to pay off and he’s a perfect example of that.”

Mounds View senior Michael Fahim was the runner-up with a throw of 161 feet. Garrett Shumski, a junior from Mankato West, placed third at 159 feet, 4 inches.