MADISON - Even with a gold medal and a state title to his name, Derek Watt isn’t satisfied with his accomplishment. Simply put, he was shooting for more.
Watt, the 6-2, 215-pound linebacker from Pewaukee, won the WIAA Division 2 shot put championship at the state track and field meet over the weekend in La Crosse with a throw of 56 feet, 9.50 inches, a throw that was nearly one foot, nine inches longer than second place.
Even so, an earlier throw of his that went 60 feet was called a scratch by less than an inch. It was a mark that would have set the school record, and he’s still beating himself up about it.
“That would have been pretty sweet,” Watt said. “I barely nicked the toe board. I was the happiest kid in the world for about a second until the ref said scratch.”
It seems that never settling is a theme in the Watt family. Watt was initially going to be a grayshirt this season for the University of Wisconsin after he turned down a full scholarship offer from Northwestern. Instead of being disappointing about his year waiting to play or re-questioning his decision, Watt has designed himself a workout plan that was going to get him in the best shape possible when he enrolled in January.
His decision was rewarded, as an injury to Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs athlete Eric Steffes opened up a scholarship for Watt, meaning Watt will start workouts this week while Steffes will grayshirt.
“I’m just really excited to get going and start working out with the guys,” Watt said.
Watt isn’t the only state champion joining Wisconsin this week, as Brookfield Academy wide receiver Frederick Willis blazed through the competition in Division 3. Nobody touched Willis in the 100 meter and 200-meter dash preliminaries or the finals, running a 10.82 in the 100m final and a 21.81 in the 200m final, the latter being a new state record.
Willis also helped his 4x 400m relay team set a new state record of 42.51, breaking the former record of 43.44 that had just been set by Whitehall in the previous heat. Before the event, the record was 43.54 set by Edgar in 1996.
“A great day,” Willis told jsonline. “It helped a lot that the sun finally left so it was a lot cooler. It's a good feeling right now. I'm still trying to take it in. I have my own individual record. I've been working hard for that.”
Other Wisconsin commits:
In Division 1, Melvin Gordon finished second in the long jump (23-06.25), 11th place in the long jump (21-11.75) and did not qualify for the 100m final (11.39), but helped lead Kenosha Bradford’s relay team – with the help of junior running back commit Vonte Jackson – to a third-place finish in the 4x100 (42.37) and a seventh-place finish in the 4x200 (1:28.98). With a solid summer and fall camp, Gordon has a chance to step in and be a factor in the running back rotation while a good first couple games should move Jackson to a four-star prospect.
Merrill senior Sam Arneson – the second commit in the 2011 class - finished sixth in the discus throw with a toss of 169-06 and 14th in the shot put with a throw of 52-08.25. Arneson will follow in his father’s footsteps and start at tight end for Wisconsin.
Milton’s Nate Hammon – the last commit in the 2011 recruiting class - finished in 8th place in the long jump, 22-01.25, 8th in the 100 meter dash (11.21) and 19th in the long jump (20-10.75), but didn’t qualify for the finals in the 4x100 or the 4x200 meter relay. Hammon will grayshirt this upcoming season and enroll in January, a decision presumably made to give sophomore walk-on and No.2 wide receiver Jared Abbrederis a scholarship.
2012 verbal commit Vince Biegel from Wisconsin Rapids did not qualify for the finals in the 110m Hurdles with a time of 15.72, but was sixth among juniors. Biegel – a four-star recruit – is widely considered along with Jackson as the two best players in the state of Wisconsin.
Some of Wisconsin’s 2011 walk-ons also competed over the weekend. Jake Stengel helped Sheboygan North's relay team to a ninth-place finish in the 4x100 (43.16), although the group finished one spot out of the qualifying in the 4x200 meter relay. Another walk-on – Franklin Lance Baertz – didn’t fare much better, as his squad didn’t make it out of prelims in the 4x100 or the 4x400. Mukwonago’s Derek Hasanoglu – who de-committed from Army to walk on at Wisconsin - finished in a tie for 10th in the Division 1 High Jump with a mark of 6-02.
Outside of the Division 1, Tyler Leonhard, younger brother of New York Jets safety Jim Leonhard, helped his Flambeau relay to a seventh-place finish in the 4x100 with a time of 44.99.