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Staying put

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Thursday, March 24, 2005

Colin Dugan will get another chance to repeat.

The Springdale senior had hoped to lead the Dynamo football team to back-to-back WPIAL Class A championships, but the team fell short in the semifinals in November.

Now, Dugan is eyeing a title defense of his Class AA shot put championship.

The burly, 280-pounder flicked the shot 50 feet, 7 1/4 inches to win WPIAL gold last spring.

WPIAL track and field season opens today, and Dugan is ready to tuck, spin and toss his way back to the top of the WPIAL medal stand.

"I want it even more this year because I know what to expect," Dugan said. "Track is a lot different from football. In football, you worry about the guy next to you doing his job.

"In track, you worry about your job. I trust myself more than I do other people."

Dugan went on to place eighth at the PIAA championships with a throw of 51-1 1/2 in Shippensburg, so a return trip to states also in on the docket.

"Colin's focus is more on technique now," said Springdale head track coach Wes Hicks. "Before, it was all about brute strength."

Last season, Dugan marched to a championship to the beat of his own drum. Springdale didn't have a throwing coach, so Dugan was often training on his own. But Springdale has added a throwing coach this season, former Valley coach and long-time track supporter Larry Rowe.

"When Colin turns it loose, it's gone," said Rowe, who spent 30 years at Valley before retiring three years ago. "He has all the skills to win another title."

Athletes such as Dugan make coaches such as Rowe want to come out of retirement.

"He was very successful last year without me," Rowe said. "I don't want to change anything. If I see little things in form or technique, I'll tell him. But that's about all.

"Colin is a hard-working, very respectful young man."

Dugan, also a tenacious nose tackle, has already locked up a football scholarship to Liberty, a Division I-AA school in Virginia. He's using track to stay in shape and keep his competitive juices flowing.

Gold medals along the way are perks.

He also is getting some help with conditioning and weight-lifting from former Burrell girls track coach Frank Phelps.

"I lift every day," Dugan said. "You can't miss one."

"Some kids say it's too cold outside for practice," Hicks said. "Dugan comes up to me and says, what do you want me to do today, coach?"

Dugan convinced a pair of football players to join him in throwing events. Junior linemen Brad Zurisko and Larry Seiler also will throw the shot and discus.

"I don't see Colin having any problems," Hicks said. "Especially with the addition of his buddies to push him.

"Those three should sweep a lot of meets in the shot and discus."

Dugan said he is practicing with 16-pound shot puts, which are four pounds heavier than the WPIAL regulation shots.

"That makes the 12-pound ball seem lighter," he said.

He also practices with a girls' 8-pound shot to "help get the speed down."

Dugan's goal is to throw 56 feet by states. Last year's Class AA state champ threw 58-10 1/2.

Another local athlete looking to repeat as a WPIAL champion is Apollo-Ridge senior Chris Stewart, who claimed the Class AA pole vault title last spring.

Freeport athletes, meanwhile, will have a three-peat on their minds. The Yellowjackets, led by coach Bill Dillen, have won back-to-back WPIAL boys Class AA team titles.

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