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Gage and Grandpa go the distance

Esko senior breaks his grandfather's 46-year discus record


April 30, 2021

Jana Peterson

Esko senior Gage Stankiewicz gains momentum as he spins before throwing the discus during practice Tuesday, a week after he broke his grandfather Bill Hudspith's school record.

In the spring of 1975, Esko senior discus thrower Bill Hudspith was participating in the state track meet in St. Cloud. On his final throw of his senior year, Hudspith unleashed the best throw of his career at 162 feet, 4 inches from the circle and set a school record. Little did Hudspith know his record would stand for 46 years.

"I had no idea it would last that long," Hudspith said. "We've always had a strong throwing program here in Esko and I would never have thought it would last that long."

The record persevered even as Hudspith's own sons took a shot. Both Josh and Chris had their moments, but it was Chris who came the closest to breaking the record.

"Chris came within a couple of inches of the record," Huspith said. "He just didn't quite get there."

All that changed this past week when Esko senior Gage Stankiewicz launched a throw of epic portions that settled on the soil at 169 feet, 9 inches Tuesday at a meet in Moose Lake.

But the story doesn't end there.

Stankiewicz is Hudspith's grandson. Stankiewicz's mother, Angie, is Hudspith's daughter and went to state herself three years in a row throwing in the weight events in Cloquet. Bill's son, Chris, holds the Esko record in the shot put with a toss of 55 feet, 8 inches. Chris went on to throw at the University of Minnesota. Josh also went on and threw the javelin in college, so the Hudspith family has an impressive lineage in the weight events.

On Tuesday night the stars aligned and Stankiewicz launched a bomb on his first throw that he felt was the record breaker.

"I had a good feeling when I let it go that it was the one," said Stankiewicz. "I told my grandpa 'I think that's the one,' and he said 'I think that might be a bit short,' so I got a bit nervous."

Ironically, Grandpa Bill - who volunteers at meets - was standing nearby when Stankiewicz cut loose with his record toss. When the measurement was complete, the throw came back at 169-9 and Stankiewicz knew he had broken his grandfather's record.

"I knew I would break the record this year, it was just a matter of when I did it," Stankiewiecz said. "On my practice throws I had a few pretty good ones so I just felt like it was going to be that day."

Hudspith has been a volunteer throwing coach for the Eskomos over the last number of years, but prior to that was the track coach at UMD for 17 years and coached three national champions, so he knows a bit about throwing. He imparted that wisdom to his kids, and now grandchildren.

While Stankiewicz has become a student of the game of throwing, he has had plenty of help with his grandfather, his uncle Chris and Esko throwing coach Matt Peterson.

"Gage is a naturally gifted thrower with extremely long levers that help him build incredible separation and torque into his throws," Peterson said. "He's grown into a master technician and every day he strives to get better at some aspect of his throwing technique through drills and persistent effort. Grandpa Bill has challenged him over the last few years. Bill's knowledge of the finer details without question helped Gage to take the strides to become one of the best throwers in the state of Minnesota."

Hudspith stood well under 6 feet and barely weighed 170 pounds in high school. Stankiewicz is a giant standing nearly 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 260 pounds.

"I was just a little runt when I threw compared to these giants today," said Hudspith. "I had to rely on quickness and technique. Gage has become a student of the sport and is now using his size, along with technique, to become what he has today. His upside is still out there and I could see him going well beyond where he's thrown already."

Chris Hudspith set the Esko shot put record in 2003 and then went on to throw for the Golden Gophers at the University of Minnesota. He also has taken an interest in his nephew and helped put Gage on a throwing and weightlifting plan that has paid dividends for the Esko senior.

Contributed photo

Esko senior Gage Stankiewicz with his Grandpa Bill Hudspith, also a volunteer coach, on the day Stankiewicz surpassed Hudspith's record toss during a track meet at Moose Lake.

Hudspith believes Stankiewicz has a lot more in him and with the right conditions he could reach rarified air in the state of Minnesota.

"Not very many throwers have hit the 180 foot mark and Gage has the size and technique that he could do that," said Hudspith. "His wingspan is 7 feet and that gives him a big advantage."

While Hudspith made a living with his speed in the circle, Stankiewicz realizes that is one area he needs to improve if he wants to reach those state record-type distances.

"I need to improve my quickness in the circle," said Gage. "Now that I have that school record, I can focus on just getting better and better every day and let's see what happens."

At this point one has to wonder just how far Stankiewicz will throw, but either way you know Grandpa Bill will be there to give some friendly advice and knowledge along the way.


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