Boys Track: Hinsdale Central’s Piker gets tips from Olympic legend
Updated: April 10, 2012 8:58PM
A simple phone call led to some sage advice for Hinsdale Central boys track team member Nick Piker, a junior.
In the offseason, one of Piker’s parents stumbled upon the website for former 1972 Olympic shot putter Brian Oldfield, an Elgin native who has moved back to the area and gives shot put and discus lessons to interested athletes. Oldfield even leaves his phone number on the website brianoldfield.com.
Piker, who started throwing in field events while at Westview Hills Junior High, contacted Oldfield, and in a matter of days the Westmont resident was receiving instruction from one of the country’s all-time legends in shot put. Piker and a thrower from Lake Park met Oldfield at a junior high in Elgin, which had a throwing ring. The two students received help from the master in a series of sessions over the summer.
“He’s an individual. There is nobody else like him,” Piker said of Oldfield, “He knows his stuff. He was in the Olympics. He watches you and knows what you are doing wrong, right off the bat. He knows what to do and how to do it. He has you do it different ways through practice.”
Oldfield, a state shot put champion for Elgin in 1963, finished sixth in the Olympics at Munich in ’72. His biography credits him with becoming the first man to throw over 72 feet outdoors, and his 75-foot throw in 1975 ranks as one of the all-time best.
After renovations at the school, Hinsdale Central has a new discus ring this season — after going without one last year. There is still work to be done for the Red Devils in that event. Hinsdale Central failed to place in the top six in the discus at Saturday’s Hornet Relays, held at Hinsdale South. Downers Grove South’s Jeremy Ulrich, Terrance Allen and Mike Momsens won the event with a combined 384-7.
The Red Devils won in shot put (135-3 1/5) behind Piker, Miami University (Ohio)-bound football player Ryan Callen and Chris Syregelas.
Piker set a new personal record with a toss of 50-6 in shot put.
The only other event won by Hinsdale Central was the 4X110-meter high hurdle shuttle, featuring Zane Zassmer, Reed Wigley, Ryan Daleen and Philip Pielet (1:05.7).
The Red Devils (76 points) finished fourth out of nine teams.
The Hornet Relays meet has a way of bringing old rivals together. Piker competed against Hinsdale South junior Zach Guritz in a reunion of sorts. The two competed against each other in the throws in middle school, when Guritz attended Cass Junior High in Darien. Piker and Guritz did not play opposing positions on the football field. Guritz was a starter at center, but Piker was a backup offensive lineman and hopes to take Callen’s left tackle position next season.
Guritz led the Hornets to a second-place finish in discus (346-9) at the Hornet Relays.
Piker gave up basketball, both on the high school level and in AAU, to focus on this spring’s track season. He’s starting to see progress in discus, considering a recent personal-best toss of 154-5.
Piker last played basketball for Hinsdale Central’s sophomore team.
“I really like basketball. I loved watching the team,” Piker said. “I went to all the games. It was hard to miss basketball practice, but it was time to work on track.”