Calm demeanor strengthens Picazo in the ring

Calm demeanor strengthens Picazo in the ring

TUSCOLA — CJ Picazo didn't become monumentally bigger or stronger between his junior and senior track and field seasons at Tuscola.

He didn't gain significantly more talent or capability inside the throwing ring, either.

So why is Picazo heading to the Class 1A state meet in both the shot put and discus — after advancing in just the latter one year prior — while boasting a much-improved qualifying discus toss?

Picazo and Warriors throws coach Stan Wienke have a collective theory entering today's preliminaries at Eastern Illinois' O'Brien Stadium.

"(I'm) staying calm and collected," Picazo said. "Not thinking about it — just going in and throwing."

"Relaxtion," added Wienke, who is in his 43rd year teaching shot and discus hurlers. "He's a (football) lineman. You can't play a defensive or offensive lineman and be a real passive person, and he just translated that over to shot put and discus like football — he was going to destroy it.

"If you try to manhandle a shot put and discus, they'll usually win."

Picazo has grasped that, and it's led him to the state's fourth-best 1A sectional discus throw — 159 feet, 3 inches.

That's a far cry from his 2018 entrance length of 143-7, and he added a state-advancing mark of 49-1 in the shot put to boot.

"Discus is my specialty," said Picazo, who signed to play football with Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) earlier this school year. "I've loved throwing (discus) since middle school, and it's been my love since then."

Picazo's first trip to Charleston in 2018 ended in Thursday's opening round, as his best toss was 131-3.

"I'm a lot more confident in my ability to throw better at state," Picazo said. "Last year, I was really nervous. I'd never been to a big stage like that before."

Wienke feels Picazo getting to watch 2018 Tuscola graduate Hunter Woodard, who won last season's 1A state title in the shot put, will pay dividends this week.

"I'm definitely thinking he's going to get a medal in both," Wienke said. "I'm not sure he can't be top three in discus, if not possibly win it. ... (And) he's going to surprise some people in the shot put."

A future sports management major, Picazo said he also plans to throw for Concordia-St. Paul. So this weekend won't mark the conclusion of his track and field career.

Doesn't mean he won't try to end the prep portion with a bang.

"I can hold my own this year," Picazo said. "I want to place and show them I'm a real good thrower."


The following athletes will represent their boys’ track and field programs during the state meet at O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston:

Class 3A

Centennial— Antonio Buchanan, Sr. (high jump, triple jump).

Danville — Quemarii Williams, Sr. (200, 400).

Class 2A

Champaign Central— Kai Baumgartner, Jr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, triple jump); Reece Jacobson, Jr. (100); Ben Schultz, Sr. (long jump, triple jump).

Mahomet-Seymour — Colin Balbach, Sr. (pole vault); Corey Cebulski, Sr. (pole vault); Hunter Hendershot, Jr. (shot put, discus); Morrie Mendenhall, Sr. (shot put); Mathias Powell, Sr. (1,600, 3,200); CJ Shoaf, Soph. (110 hurdles, high jump).

Monticello — Garrett Dixon, Sr. (1,600, 3,200); Luke Sokolowski, Soph. (1,600); Jack Spence, Sr. (long jump); 400 relay; 800 relay.

Paxton-Buckley-Loda — Brett Giese, Soph. (high jump); Ryder James, Fr. (3,200).

Prairie Central — Chandlar Ifft, Sr. (pole vault); Kaden King, Soph. (110 hurdles, long jump); Wyatt Steidinger, Sr. (high jump).

Rantoul — Jerry Harper, Jr. (400); 800 relay; 1,600 relay.

Unity — Kyle Burgoni, Soph. (100, 200); Carson Kleparski, Fr. (pole vault); Quinn Shannon, Sr. (pole vault).

Urbana — Payton Borich, Sr. (800); Jeremiah Hamilton, Soph. (200); 800 relay; 3,200 relay.

Class 1A 

Arcola — Beau Edwards, Fr. (1,600); 400 relay; 800 relay; 1,600 relay.

Argenta-Oreana — Makail Stanley, Jr. (100, 200, 400).

Armstrong-Potomac — Austin Bridgman, Sr. (1,600).

Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond — Layton Hall, Soph. (1,600, 3,200); Austin Romine, Sr. (800); 1,600 relay.

Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin — Caleb Lahey, Jr. (shot put, discus); Gabe Martinez, Jr. (1,600); 3,200 relay.

Blue Ridge — Gavin Raines, Sr. (high jump).

Cerro Gordo/Bement — Luke Brewer, Sr. (3,200); Dylan Upton, Sr. (discus); 3,200 relay.

Fisher — Dalton Burk, Sr. (100, 200); Lucas Chittick, Sr. (1,600, 3,200).

Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley — Aidan Laughery, Fr. (100, 200); 800 relay; 1,600 relay.

Iroquois West— Zachary Gerling, Jr. (triple jump); Max Grant, Sr. (high jump); 3,200 relay.

Milford/Cissna Park — Spencer Wells, Fr. (high jump).

Ridgeview/Lexington — Mason Barr, Sr. (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles).

St. Joseph-Ogden — Lane Gaskin, Sr. (200); Hayden Knott, Soph. (shot put); Nolan Peacock, Jr. (pole vault); 400 relay; 800 relay; 1,600 relay.

St. Thomas More — Alexander Comet, Fr. (shot put); Bobby Kapolnek, Sr. (400, 800); 400 relay; 1,600 relay.

Salt Fork — Max Branigin, Sr. (100); Clayton Jarling, Jr. (high jump); Jacob McGee, Jr. (triple jump); Dawson Rogers, Sr. (800); Payton Taylor, Jr. (shot put, discus); Caine Wilson, Sr. (200, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); 400 relay; 1,600 relay.

Sullivan — Jadon Nuzzo, Sr. (pole vault).

Tri-County — Micheal Hawkins, Sr. (400); Ramsey Hunt, Jr. (300 hurdles, long jump, high jump, triple jump).

Tuscola — Brandon Douglas, Jr. (pole vault); CJ Picazo, Sr. (shot put, discus); Noah Woods, Sr. (400).

Uni High — Alex Dolcos, Soph. (800); Henry Kraatz, Jr. (1,600); Aryan Lalwani, Soph. (1,600, 3,200); Matty Tang, Soph. (800); 800 relay; 1,600 relay; 3,200 relay.

Watseka — Jameson Cluver, Soph. (400); Ethan Keller, Sr. (300 hurdles); Rusty Kuhlmann, Sr. (shot put, discus); Keegan Zack, Sr. (long jump, triple jump); 400 relay; 1,600 relay.