Avon Lake's Justin Wirtz caps off impressive junior year
Avon Lake incoming senior Justin Wirtz has added an array of titles to his impressive high school career this track season. Among them are State meet participant, Outdoor National meet participant and perhaps the most impressive, All-American.
Last month, Wirtz placed sixth in the discus at the New Balance Outdoor National meet in Greensboro, North Carolina. The top six finishers at Nationals earn the distinction of All-American.
Coming off a sophomore season where he competed at the Indoor National meet but fell just short of qualifying for the State outdoor meet, Wirtz said his offseason training program helped him take that extra step as a junior.
“The best help I had this season … (was) T3 Performance (in Avon),” Wirtz said. “Their lifting programs got me stronger but also helped me mentally. (It) got me a lot more confident.”
Wirtz mentioned that his past experience at Indoor National and making his first entry to the State meet also helped in his mental preparation for last month’s National meet. He also feels he “peaked at the right time” heading into the postseason.
“Without Indoor Nationals, I probably wouldn’t have done as well as I did,” Wirtz said. “(I was) a lot more mentally prepared for Outdoor than Indoor. It was an awesome experience. I definitely loved Outdoor Nationals more than Indoor.”
When it came time to throw against the best in the country, Wirtz sputtered out of the gate. His first two throws, coming in at 176 feet and 173 feet, left him needing a throw well over 180 feet to make the finals.
As he squared up for his third and final throw, Wirtz knew as soon as he released the disc that it was a good throw. In fact, 185 feet and 7 inches worth of good. It was enough to set a personal record, push him into the finals and earn him an All-American distinction.
“I had nothing to lose (on that last throw),” Wirtz said. “I was there to show everybody what I could do. The bar is definitely set a lot higher because now people are expecting me to throw high numbers.”
That expectation is apparently shared by colleges including the University of Cincinnati, Penn State University, Stanford University and the University of Iowa, which have begun showing interest. Wirtz’s father, John, a world-ranked masters thrower, is confident his son will meet those expectations.
“In the last month, (Justin) has gone from a pretty good local thrower, to – right now – he is the number one returning discus thrower in the state of Ohio across the board,” John said. “He has that ‘It’ factor.”
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