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Coil not done chasing national titles

NATIONAL CHAMPION: Indiana Wesleyan senior Brennan Coil, throwing the hammer Saturday in the Polar Bear Invitational, won the shot put at the recent NAIA National Indoor Track and Field meet.

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

Brennan Coil was a busy young man Saturday at the Polar Bear Invitational on the Indiana Wesleyan University track and field complex.

Starting with hammer throw and then moving on to discus and finally shot put, Coil spent more than seven hours tossing objects for the Wildcats. Yet, the Millersburg, Ohio, native has become quite accomplished at throwing things since arriving on the south Marion campus four years ago.

And nobody was better at throwing the shot put than Coil at the March 2 NAIA National Indoor Track and Field Championships in Brookings, South Dakota. On his final throw, Coil set a program record of 18.31 meters (60-feet-1) and vaulted from third place to national champion.

“I went in at 17 and 1/2 meters, which was the school record,” Coil said just before warming up for the shot put competition. “I always had a goal of throwing 18 and coach (Kyle Abney) and I had talked going into the meet that you’re capable of throwing this, you just have to embrace in your mind and go out there and chase it.

“I told myself that’s what I’m here to do and the last throw was 18-31 and I set the school record again and a lifetime best. It could not be any sweeter,” he continued.

Coil is the latest in a long line of standout Wildcat throwers than includes Abney, a three-time NAIA All-American and school record holder, and John Bowman, another three-time all-American. While Bowman had the nation’s second-best overall discus throw in 2011, neither he or Abney won a national title.

“It was fun,” Abney said of watching Coil’s winning performance. “Last throw, pressure on, sitting in third place and he just hit the bomb to put him in first place. By the same token, we know he has in him so it wasn’t random in that sense, but random in actually doing it, where the rubber meets the road and hitting your mark.”

Coil previously won NAIA All-American honors in last year’s outdoor meet with a third place finish in the discus and was sixth in the shot indoors. He had put most of his training since outdoors in the shot put, but he said he feels equally adept at both events.

“Right now, shot put is a little higher than the discus with all the time I’ve spent indoors perfecting the shot put,” he said. “But discus will catch up pretty quickly. It will just take a couple weeks of getting back in the flow of things and being able to balance out the two events and just hit my marks in the discus.”

In the Polar Bear meet, Coil once again displayed his mastery in the shot put with a winning toss of 17.11 meters (56-1.75 feet) to prevail over a strong field. But he had an off-day in the discus and placed fifth with a 148-10 toss and added an eighth in the hammer throw.

When Coil first came to IWU he weighed 205 pounds and had a personal best of 53 feet with a 12-pound shot put and 160 feet in the discus. Now, he has added 60 pounds and has a 60 foot throw with a 16-pound shot and went over 170 feet in the discus.

“It was a goal coming in my freshman year to eventually win a national championship,” Coil said. “But it’s been three years of ups and down and working hard every day out here, lifting very hard just to get the strength and the volume and the reps in the ring to be able to go into a meet like (indoor nationals) and say I have a chance if i capitalize on it.

“I felt very confident that all that time and training was ready to pay off,” he added. “I met my goal and I could not be happier than that.”

Yet, Coil has to share bragging rights within his extended family. Aaron Murray, his brother-in-law, played on two Indiana Wesleyan NAIA Division II national championship teams.

Murray contacted Indiana Wesleyan’s track coaching staff about Coil and the rest as they say is history. Coil’s sister had competed on the IWU women’s track team.

For the outdoor season, Coil would like to complete a sweep of the shot put national titles and also challenge in the discus. And he wants to continue competing after college if possible, professionally and in the Olympics.

“It’s always been a dream and, Lord willing, Olympics would be a goal I want to try and chase,” he said. “But I’m going to ride out the season and see where it takes me.

“If I never threw any further than I have today, I will hang up my shoes and said God gave me a lot of great opportunities and I’m thankful for the time I was given,” he continued. “But if doors open and throwing professionally is one the table, I might chase it a little bit. If it’s a possibility, then why not.”

Abney said if Coil wants to pursue the Olympics and a professional career, he will need to be patient and continue to work hard at his craft. Most top throwers don’t reach their peak until their late 20s and even early 30s.

“He’s really good at having vision and seeing long term and that’s massively important in this sport because it doesn’t happen right away,” Abney said of Coil. “It’s a game of reps, so having that mindset and having that work ethic and having the talent to do it, it all adds up and we saw that in the indoors.

“That being said, I don’t think outdoors will be any different,” Abney added. “I think the result will hopefully be the same.”