Ridgewood’s J.J. Durr and West Holmes’ Lane Graham aren’t the biggest guys in the discus and shot throwing pits, but they certainly may be the most tenacious and the most prepared.
The two sophomores have been working together and battling each other since they came into the high school realm, and on Thursday, May 16 and Saturday, May 18, they were at it again, continuing the friendly rivalry that has pushed each to get better, lest the other get the upper hand.
Durr has had that upper hand in recent times, and it played out in his favor again at the Div. II district track and field meet at West Holmes High School.
On May 16 the two dueled to the end in the discus, where Graham PR’d with a throw of 152-03, which wasn’t enough to catch Durr. However, just for good measure, Durr used his last throw to fire off a massive throw of 169-02, which was 14 feet better than his previous best.
It was another classic showdown between these two friends that was only going to get another dose on Saturday in the shot.
There, Graham uncorked a beautiful throw of 54-07, only to watch Durr toss one off the back board of the pit for a winning heave of 55-05.
This round went to Durr, but the two will have a return engagement at regionals, where they will go at it yet again.
“It’s the end of the season, and I’m getting big throws, which is exactly what I wanted,” said Durr, who went to state last year as a freshman in the discus. Last year he finished in the cruelest of places, finishing ninth with a throw of 147-11. His throw at districts would have easily won the state title while Graham’s throw would have placed him sixth at last year’s state tourney. As for their shot throws, Durr would have tied for second while Graham would have placed third.
“Right now it is about preparing myself mentally and physically,” Durr said. “I have lifted more this year than I have previously.”
Graham was the first guy to congratulate his friend in each event at districts, although he would have loved to deal him a second-place finish.
He said he too is peaking at the right time and is looking forward to continuing their ongoing rivalry.
“We push each other from warm-ups all the way through,” Graham said. “We have known each other and competed ever since we came in, and it is always exciting to compete against him, but we always root for each other too.”
Graham, who went to regionals last year, had the added joy of bringing along freshman Brock Zimmerly. Zimmerly PR’d with a throw of 45-09 at districts, which was 5 inches shy of moving him on to regionals, having placed in the dreaded fifth spot.
“He had a great year and came a long way,” Graham said of Zimmerly. “He’s worked hard and learned a lot, and I know this will only inspire him to work even harder.”
Zimmerly was in agony immediately after the event, but after some time away, he realized what he had accomplished.
“It hurts, but I got a lot better this year, and it is going to make me focus even more this offseason,” Zimmerly said.
As for the ongoing rivalry that will continue at regionals, both friends hope to see each other one more time at state, where they would compete on the biggest stage.