The Ottumwa Courier

May 16, 2013

Mustang coach leads several contenders to state discus, shot put

By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — BLOOMFIELD — Kate Birchmier and Marissa Shuey could hardly continue their joy last Thursday in Eddyville.

Only halfway through their day of district competition, the Mustang teammates already knew they'd be heading to Des Moines together to compete against the best throwers in the state in the girls Class 2A shot put.

As they looked forward to prospect of competing together on the biggest stage in the state, both Birchmier and Shuey were eager to give credit to a man that helped lead that achievement.

"Do you want to talk to our coach," both Birchmier and Shuey asked as their throwing coach, Stan Huggins, walked by.

Huggins, however, immedately turned down the opportunity to hog the spotlight.

"Talk to the kids," Huggins said. "They're the ones that deserve the attention."

Perhaps. But Davis County head girls track coach Josh Husted knowns that without a coach like Huggins, special careers like the one that Birchmier is beginning to craft for herself might not even get off the ground.

"We asked him to coach the field events once Kate started coming up," Husted said. "He focuses on throwing with all of our athletes in middle school right through high school."

The concept was certainly an eye-opener to all of Davis County's discus and shot put throwers.

"I've never really had a proper throwing coach before that," Shuey said. "When my coaches told me I could talk to my throwing coach, I was like 'What? I have a throwing coach?"

That throwing coach watched his pupils make him proud last week with several tickets to the state track and field meet on the line. Birchmier and Shuey were just the start of a dominant night for the Mustangs, who also swept the two automatic berths in the boys discus as senior Zeb Black edged by sophomore teammate Conner Davidson by an inch and a half in a brilliant duel between the Davis County duo.

"That was quite a battle between Zeb and Conner," junior Andrew Cowles said, noticing the 'throwdown' even while qualifying for the Mustangs on the track in the 110 high hurdles. "I'm proud of both of those guys for making it."

Before the night was over at Ike Ryan Field, Mustang fans would watch Birchmier bring home the girls discus title while Wyatt Garmon won the boys shot put, giving Davis County a clean sweep of the district throwing titles. With Wyane Doerscher also being added in with a qualified throw in the shot put, the Mustangs will send a grand total of six athletes to compete in the four state throwing events with multiple qualifiers in three of the events.

It was certainly a proud night for a coach who has accomplished so much in four decades of work with young students and athletes at the Davis County schools district.

"He's an amazing coach," Husted said. "That's a guy that has state hall of fame potential. College coaches will come up and ask him for advice. That's how respected he is."

Besides just teaching them the proper techniques from an early age, being a consistant persence for the Mustang throwers is just as important a role that Huggins plays in his role as coach.

"He so inspirational. He keeps us pumped up for the meet and gets us prepared as best as he can to throw," Shuey said. "To have someone that is on our side being with us at all times to get us motivated, it's exciting for us to compete for him."

In his 40th year coaching, all at Davis County, Huggins also has a pretty successful track record when it comes to success on a consistant level having coached a state qualifer in 39 of those seasons. Most noteably, Huggins coached Chuck Locke to three consecutive state titles in the mid '70s. Locke won the Class A shot put crown in 1975, 76 and 77 with throws of 55-4.5, 60-8.75 and a state-record throw of 62-9.75 that stood until 2009 while also winning consecutive discus title in 1976 and 1977 with tosses of 165-0 and 178-3.

With six throwers competing in Des Moines, odds are good that the Mustangs can add to their 16 state field events championships either Thursday or Friday at the state track meet. Huggins, honored recently for his work in the classroom as a teacher in the Davis County Middle School with the Community First Credit Union 'Making a Difference' award, has certianly earned the trust of all of those athletes that will be trying to earn those state championships.

"I have a lot of trust in him that he knows what he's talking about," Birchmier said. "When some people may say something, I hear what they're saying. When Mr. Huggins says it, I know I can trust him."