Nicole Breeden played baseball at the Oregon Rec Center for eight years, so she figured why not try out for the Clay High School baseball team once she began her freshman year.
She didn’t make the baseball team, but she settled for the next best thing.
Breeden, a senior, went out for track and field as a freshman and took up the discus, and she’s now considered one of the best female throwers in school history.
“One of my friends was going to do track,” Breeden recalled, “so I went out there a week or so after track (season) started. I ran track my seventh and eighth grade year, the 800, so I ran the 800 my freshman year and threw shot and discus. The next school year I asked coach (Scott Wamer), ‘do you think I should keep running and throwing?’ He said to keep throwing and keep my mind on that. I didn’t really like running anyways.”
|Clay track thrower Nicole Breeden. (Press photo by Ken
Breeden will spend her 18th birthday competing in the discus on Saturday at the Division I track and field championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus. Breeden took fourth at last year’s state meet, with a throw of 138 feet, 10 inches, but she has thrown 142-9 this season.
“Obviously I’ve been there before, so I know what it’s going to be like,” Breeden said. “You have to do it there, throw your best there. Maybe some people might not. I’ve been working on throwing and getting some good throws. There’s really nothing more I can do except get my mind right for the competition and make sure I don’t get intimidated with other throwers and just worry about myself.”
The 5-foot-8 Breeden, who has signed a letter of intent to compete at the University of Cincinnati, will be joined at the three-day state meet by Clay teammates Jack Nagy, Grace Winckowski, Erin Gyurke and Haley Hess. Breeden defended her regional discus title last week in Amherst. She is also a three-time district champion.
Breeden threw 135-0 to win this year’s regional title.
“I knew I was already seeded first going into regionals,” Breeden said. “Obviously I wanted to throw over 140, but the weather did not cooperate. I still threw pretty decent, even with the rain.”
Wamer has high hopes for Breeden at the state meet.
“Nicole has gotten her success from hard work and putting in the time,” Wamer said. “Nicole has gotten herself to this point by putting in the time during the offseason. While coaching soccer in the fall, I would see Nicole over in the ring throwing three to four days a week. She has been an outstanding leader for our younger throwers on the squad.”
Breeden said her goal, of course, is to be crowned the D-I state discus champion.
“Most of my coaches say I can do it,” she said. “It will be hard, obviously. I just need to push myself the best I can. My goal is to get on that podium. I got All-Ohio last year and I want to achieve that again. I know what I can do. I won’t let one throw affect me, especially at state.”
Nagy, a senior, will compete in the 110-meter hurdles after placing fourth at the Amherst regional meet. Nagy, the Three Rivers Athletic Conference champion in that event, also placed seventh in the high jump at regionals.
“Jack won the most points award for the guys’ team this spring,” Wamer said. “Jack is a great leader and a tireless worker.”
Winckowski, a sophomore, will compete in the 100 hurdles in Columbus after taking fourth at the regional meet. She won the 100 hurdles title at the TRAC meet.
“Grace is learning what it takes to be a competitive 100-meter hurdler,” Wamer said. “Grace’s work ethic has improved since her freshman year, and she has embraced what it means to be a part of our hurdles team at Clay.”
Gyurke, a junior, took third (11:00.69) in the 3200 at regionals and broke a 15-year-old school record in the process. She shaved off more than 21 seconds from her race at districts. Gyurke was the TRAC champion in the 1600, 3200 and 4x800 relay, and was voted the meet’s outstanding female athlete.
“Erin has a tremendous will to win and to be successful,” Wamer said. “Erin is the type of young lady you want the younger girls to model.”
Hess, a freshman, will compete in the 1600 at the state meet after taking second at regionals. She also placed sixth in the 800 at Amherst and ended up as the Eagles’ top female scorer in 2013.
“Haley is a fierce competitor with the speed of a sprinter,” Wamer said. “Haley qualified for the state cross country championships last fall while playing varsity soccer on the TRAC championship soccer team.”