Track & Field Feature: The Throwing Corps
That event group has also contributed to some of Dickinson’s greatest athletic successes over the last three years. While the rest of the school combined in that time has won four conference championships, the men’s track team has won the Centennial Conference three times. And the throwers have played a gigantic role in that.
Mike Tucker ’12 and Corwyn Gordon ’12 have done track and football together for four years, and their nearly half-decade of hard work is paying off in their senior season. Tucker captained the football team, and both men are track captains. In the fall, Tucker made a postseason all-star team, while Gordon memorably blocked an extra point that preserved a 21-20 win over Gettysburg. But I like to think of them as throwers who play a little football on the side. So far this season, the duo has been stellar. Indoors, Tucker won his first conference championship ever in the shot put, with Gordon right behind him in second. Explains the man known as the Big Cat: “With Tuck and I taking 1st and 2nd, that was something special. And I loved to see the looks on everyone’s faces, since we pulled it off on our last throws.” They aren’t done yet. Last Wednesday night at McDaniel College, “Tuck”, as he is widely known, finally broke the 15-meter barrier for the first time. His throw of 15.31 meters is in the top 35 in D3 this year.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for those two, however. Before “Tuck” broke through to win the conference title in February, he had finished second at conferences three times. And while Corwyn memorably broke the school record in the javelin his freshman year—with a massive personal best that nearly won the Red Devils the team championship at conferences—he missed much of his sophomore spring with a back injury, and did not score in either the discus or javelin at conferences.
Corwyn actually doesn’t hold that record in the javelin any more—John Bingham ’12 does. While Bingham is technically a decathlete, he does much of his training with the throwers. And in the magical spring of 2010, when school records were set by the men’s track team in the 1500, steeplechase, 5000 and shot put, Bingham uncorked a throw of 60.53 meters (198 feet, 7 inches) to win the conference championship and get his own school record in the javelin. Between that and winning the decathlon, Bingham was named the Centennial Conference Performer of the Meet in the field.
Bingham credits his successes to his teammates, saying that “I think one of the main factors leading to our success is definitely the camaraderie. We’re competitive people, and are constantly nagging at each other--when someone has a crappy throw, we don’t really let it slide. We more or less yell at them, and that pisses them off and their next throw is just what we wanted.”
While the success of the throwing corps has been seamless over the last three years, in that time, they have actually had three different coaches. Gordon explains: “It’s already difficult to come into the track season right after football and learn that under your new coach, you pretty much have to drop everything that you learned in previous years and start over with different techniques and different points of emphasis. It’s taught us to be open minded.”
The throws coach for the first two years was long-time coach Dave Hummel, who was revered. But Gordon explains that the last two coaches have earned the same level of respect: “It’s hard to see some people move on to other phases of their lives, like Coach Hummel’s retirement, and Coach Bolster having to leave for family reasons at the end of last year. But we’ve always been a very close group with our coaches from past and present, like being invited to Hummel’s house with his family for Easter, and when we see him around campus he’s always very interested to hear about us. And it’s nothing different this year with Tappah [Dinnall]. It’s almost easier to get along with him because we did just compete against him last year while he was at Ship, and now he’s our coach, only 1 year older than us and going through the same issues that we have.”
So remember, the next time you see a group of big dudes on campus, don’t make them mad. After all, one of them might be able to throw you a really, really long way.