By ANDY WOLF
Tyler Arbaugh found his niche pretty early in high school.
The Van Buren junior has a broad enough stature and enough physical tools to be a factor in many sports at the high school level.
“About every other sport our school has, coaches try to get me to play,” Arbaugh said.
He just prefers the field portion of track and field.
The whole throwing thing is working out quite well so far.
Arbaugh qualified for the Division III state track and field meet in the discus and the shot put and will compete in both today.
“I’m not an aggressive person so I don’t play football,” he said. “I’m pretty uncoordinated so I don’t play baseball or basketball.”
Arbaugh is seeded fifth in each event.
He threw a personal-best and school-record 54-4 in the shot put to finish second at regionals and 164-5 to take third in the discus.
As a regional champ in the discus as a sophomore, getting to state was a very attainable goal.
Arbaugh didn’t know about shot put.
“Definitely didn’t feel like a shot-putter at the beginning of the season but everything started clicking now so that’s good,” he said. “I never really felt drawn to the event. I’m starting to like it more now.”
Going to state can have that kind of effect.
Arbaugh is hoping to shake off a disappointing performance at last year’s state meet.
He was the second seed entering but a 45-minute lightning delay threw him off his mental game.
Arbaugh, seeded second at 163-11, only threw 140-7 on his first throw, fouled his next two and ended up 12th.
“I was warmed up already, mentally prepared, ready to go in and just try my hardest,” Arbaugh said. “It taught me how to stay calm in myself and going to bigger meets helped out a lot this year to just building my confidence within myself.”
It pushed him to work even harder.
Arbaugh said he practiced every day over the summer, sometimes three times a day.
“I really enjoy the sport so it sounds like a lot but I was enjoying every second of it,” Arbaugh said.
All that hard work started to pay off.
Arbaugh competed at the New Balance Nationals in New York in the indoor season and began putting up huge marks at the start of the outdoor season.
He registered an early 162-7 at the Liberty-Benton Relays (March 30), topped 170 at back-to-back meets at the Ottawa-Glandorf Gold Medal Meet (173-2) and Gibsonburg Invitational (172-6) and set a PR to win a district title at 174-1.
As he learned last year, anything can happen at state — good or bad.
Norwalk St. Paul’s Davis Hedrick is the top seed in the discus at 179-5.
Columbiana Crestview’s Dominic Perry, the defending state champ, is seeded first in the shot at 58-9.
Arbaugh doesn’t have a particular distance in mind in either event but has a strategy in place to hold onto whatever position he can.
“I don’t want to be in the position of catchup,” he said. “I want to get out as far as I can as soon as possible.”
Also competing in the shot are first-time qualifiers in Patrick Henry’s Cam Gebers (51-51/4) and Arcadia’s John Hill (50-2), seeded 11th and 14th, respectively.
Hill was fifth at regionals but earned an at-large bid.