By Will Simmons

Mattoon’s Sam Bradbury was pleased after earning a medal in the IHSA state track and field meet.

In his first season competing in the shot put, the senior finished ninth in the Class 2A meet.

Bradbury, a senior who went into the day as the seventh seed with a throw of 50 feet, 5 inches, said he couldn’t be upset with how things turned out from the throwing circle, after he was unable to beat his prelim mark on Saturday morning.

“My goal overall was to place,” Bradbury said. “That’s what I did. I accomplished my very first goal, that’s all I came to do.”

Brothers Alex and Zach Stout, from Charleston, competed in the discus and pole vault finals, respectively, at the IHSA State meet on Saturday. They each finished 12th.

Charleston senior Zach Stout competes in the pole vault Friday at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Field during the IHSA State Track and Field Class 2A Semifinals. (Photo/Dominic Baima)

Charleston senior Zach Stout cleared his personal best of 13 feet, but missed at 13-6.

“It really means a lot to me,” he said, “because, I mean, I’ve always wanted to go to state since I was a little kid, and it’s never happened. Once I figured out I made state and sectionals, I’m just really happy about it.”

Junior Alex Stout, said “it was awesome to make a state finals,” but the grandiose atmosphere got to his head during Saturday’s warmups, and, unlike his brother, he wasn’t satisfied with his results in the discus finals.

“I’m pretty disappointed because I didn’t throw above 40 meters, at all.” Stout said. He had handily surpassed that distance in Friday’s prelim, launching the discus 44.71 meters for the 12th and final spot in the championship heat.

Stout could get another chance at state his senior year, but this will be the last year he will join his brother Zach in the State finals — a feat which in itself is remarkable.

“I don’t think very many can say that,” Zach Stout said about the siblings both making it to the top tier of IHSA track and field in the same season.

Zach Stout hopes to walk on to Eastern Illinois University’s track and field team in the fall. If so, he would join Bradbury who will be looking to fine-tune his shot put technique. The 6-foot-8 shot putter said strength isn’t the only attribute needed to throw.

“A lot of it has to do with technique,” Bradbury said. “Because I am a first-year high school thrower, I feel like I definitely have room to improve, and I haven’t reached my maximum yet.” 

Mattoon High track coach Jarad Kimbro said the coaches at Eastern will be able to work with Bradbury to reach that maximum.

“Once he gets in and really dedicates himself in the weight room,” Kimbro said, “he’s gonna see a tremendous growth. Once he gets that upper body strength that 16 pound shot put they throw in college is gonna feel like nothing in his hands because he’s so big and strong.”

Kimbro said they didn’t get the results they were looking for, but the shot putter has had a big season, all things considered – and Bradbury is only going to get better.

“I’m proud of him,” Kimbro said. “He’s a great leader, a great kid and he’s got a bright future.”