Lanesboro grad wraps track career as three-time All-American


SUBMITTED PHOTO Eric Holst, at left, finished second in the Hammer Throw at this year's NCAA Division 3 Track and Field Championships, held May 23-25, in Geneva, Ohio. Holst finishes his track career at St. Thomas University as a two-time national champion and three-time All-American.
By: 
Chad Smith

Lanesboro alum Eric Holst is a three-time All-American track athlete at St. Thomas University. He’s a two-time national champion, winning the Hammer Throw (outdoor season) as a junior and the Weight Throw (indoor season) as a senior. Holst wound up taking second in the Hammer Throw at this year’s National Division Three Track and Field Championship Meet. Holst said he was initially disappointed that he couldn’t repeat in the top spot but second was a great way to finish up his college track career.

“It’s second place in the nation and very few people will ever reach that in their athletic lives,” Holst said. “It’s still a great thing and I still get All-American honors. However, I still wanted to win. I don’t know a single athlete that wouldn’t want to hit that mark. It came down to one throw that didn’t go my way.

“My first throw of the meet was technically sound (60.90 meters),” Holst recalled. “It just felt soft, not full-go. However, that put me into the finals, which meant I was All-American. I told myself at that point ‘now we can push it.’ I attacked my second throw too hard and let go one turn too early in order to save the mark. Still, that throw put me into second place (61.69 meters).”

Holst said he couldn’t find the rhythm again and wound up scratching on his next four throws. The senior thrower either hit the net with the hammer or stepped out of the launch area. The only two throws he hit all meet were the first two attempts. “I just couldn’t find it again,” he said. However, it wasn’t just Holst that lost his rhythm.

Zak Dysert of Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio wound up as the national champion in this year’s hammer throw. He had a couple scratches and poor throws during his earlier attempts. However, Holst said Dysert ‘pulled it together like I should have’ and won it on his last throw (62.01 meters). Converting meters to feet shows just how close the competition turned out to be. Dysert’s best throw totaled 203 feet, 5 inches. Holst’s best throw was one-inch shy of that mark at 202-05.

Holst made a big change in his training last year that carried over to this season. He switched up his throwing form last year as a junior. He went from spinning three times before releasing the hammer/weight to four times. It took some time to get used to, but Holst was feeling good about the adjustment by the end of last season. This season, it took a little longer to find the rhythm during his senior year.

“Switching from three rotations to four gives you more time to accelerate ahead of the throw,” Holst explained. “If you’re a very explosive athlete, three turns are generally all you need. I’m not as explosive as many other competitors are, so that fourth turn to build up more speed can help me even the field quite a bit.”

In addition to changing his throwing form, Holst also changed his in-season training regimen. “I trained a lot harder during the season and attempted a lot more throws in practice,” Holst recalled. “I was trying to break down my body a little more during the season in hopes of building up to a stronger peak by the end of the year. I cut back on the number of throws as I got to the meets where they give out titles, trying to be a little bit fresher at that point of the season.”

Because it’s a throwing event, strength is obviously important if athletes want to be competitive. However, Holst says technique plays an even bigger part in success. “I think it’s the most technically-driven event in all of track and field,” he said.

“You mainly see that when you go from high school track up to the college level,” Holst said. “At the lower-level of competition, you’ll see big guys that win by simply outmuscling the other competitors. However, when you get up here, you’ll notice that people aren’t quite as big as they were down below. They realize it takes more than just brute strength to compete in the throwing events. Everyone is strong, so it boils down to technique.”

Holst is quick to credit his coaches for pushing him to be better every day, both at practice and during competitions. However, they won’t be pushing him anymore as his St. Thomas track career ended after the Outdoor National Meet. Looking back over his four-year career, it’s been interesting to remember how things developed.

“It really hit me hard this year that I’m done with college track,” he recalled. “I struggled with it for a few days. I remember back in my freshman year when we had a thrower that placed ninth at the national meet. We looked up to him like a god because he was one spot away from being an All-American. A spot in the national meet seemed so unattainable that we thought he was a ‘freak athlete.’

“It’s funny to look back and think about how I’ve made the same level of competition as that ‘freak athlete’ back then,” Holst added. “It’s kind of wild to think that I did it too, especially when I think about my freshman season and what we had thought was so unattainable.”

What will he miss the most about college track? It boils down to one word: routine.

“I’ve been used to going to class and going to track practice for the last ten years, going all the way back to middle school,” Holst said. “Now, there’s no more practice at all. It’s off to the workforce, which is a whole different routine to learn.”

Comments

The winning throw was actually 1 foot farther not one inch!