Three roommates, one goal. Seniors Gabe Wickham, Garrett Wickham and Cody Weber aim to take the top three spots in men’s weight throwing at the NAIA national championship meet Mar. 1-3.
All three throwers are in the top five in the nation. Gabe is No. 1 with a throw of 69-5 1/4 at a meet at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln on Jan. 20. This throw would have broken the conference and national records if it were at a conference meet. He did break the school record, one he held from last year.
Gabe’s throw of 69-5 1/4 earned him NAIA national player of the week. He won this award a second time with a 66-9 1/4 throw during the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational at UNL held Jan. 3-4.
“It’s quite an honor, when you look at it in [the] big picture. There is a lot of throwers and field athletes that can be picked to get it and getting it a second time this year, it’s quite an honor,” Wickham said.
As a freshman, Gabe was a hurdler. He qualified for nationals in hurdles before injuring his hamstring, which kept him on the sidelines for the rest of the outdoor track season. During his sophomore year, he started throwing and committed to it. He won the National Championship in the weight throw his junior year.
Older brother Garrett is No. 4 in national rankings with a 61-9 1/2 throw. Like Gabe, Garrett is also a former hurdler.
“Always growin’ up it was [Garrett] in the spotlight it seemed like. I’m not trying to take it away from him but he’s throwing well, too, and is very capable of throwing just as far,” Gabe said. “It’s fun to have a brother on the team who’s doing just as well as you are.”
Most throwers toss the 35-pound weight by spinning multiple times before hurling it into the air. Gabe spins only once, an unusual technique in the ring. Especially for a national championship contender.
Gabe’s throwing style is unconventional, but his best distances have been achieved without the standard two-turn throws.
“Why mess with what’s working?” said Zac Osgood, assistant track and field coach.
Heading into the last couple weeks of the indoor season, Osgood has his athletes adjusting the technique to hone their skills.
“We’re kind of backing off our training a little bit here so we peak at the right time. Those guys that are ranked top five nationally we don’t want peaking at the conference meet. We’re backing things off here and hoping to see our best throws at the national meet,” Osgood said.
For Gabe, his goals are to throw 70 feet, set the GPAC and national records in weight and win both meets.