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Former Rebel is B1G champ

By summer, Sam Coil will have retired his throwing shoes and his track and field silks, trading them for a professional accounting job in Minneapolis.

Until then, the 24-year-old Sturgeon Lake native and University of Wisconsin thrower will focus on adding to his championship career.

"I like to set high expectations for myself, though nothing too unreasonable," Coil told the newspaper this week.

In February, Coil won gold in the weight throw at the Big Ten Indoor Championships in Geneva, Ohio. He chucked the 35-pound ball affixed to a swivel 73 feet, 7¼ inches, just short of his personal best. He followed that up with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA 2023 Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico earlier this month, earning second-team All-America honors as a result.

"I definitely knew it was possible going in that I could walk out as the champ," Coil said of his Big Ten success. "I had that mindset going in - just do what I've been doing all season and try to treat it as another meet."

Coil hit the winning throw in the first round of three throws, advancing to the top nine that get an additional three throws in the event.

He and the Badgers open their outdoor season this weekend, traveling to the Stanford Invitational. It's a level up from a career that started with four years at South Dakota State University in Brookings.

Granted an extra year of eligibility due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Coil took his economics degree into the transfer portal and landed in Madison, Wisconsin.

"I knew coming in they had a good history of throwing and their coach was a great coach," Coil said of 14-year throwing coach Dave Astrauskas. "I knew I could go to the next level and compete in a Power Five conference."

Coil competed as a high schooler at Moose Lake, where he played football and went to three straight state meets in track and field, finishing fifth and third in shot put in 2015 and 2016.

"I was captain my senior year in football, too," he said of that traditional powerhouse program. "I learned so much about being an athlete by being a part of that football program and sports in general at Moose Lake. It was a great foundation."

Coil also chose Wisconsin for what it could give him professionally. Their master's degree program in accountancy complemented his desire to continue in track and field. Last summer, he interned at PWC in Minneapolis, and the firm offered him a full-time job beginning after he passes his exam to become a certified public accountant.

"I like problem solving ... the research and legal aspects of solving problems for people and clients," Coil said.

Until then, Coil will be found in the throwing pits of big-time college athletics. He throws the meter-long, 16-pound hammer during the outdoor season. His affection for throwing heavy objects began in the weight room.

"Definitely what got me into track was the lifting aspect of being strong," he said. "I really enjoy lifting and I just like competing, too, and being able to be part of a team. It's awesome to hang out with teammates with similar interests. I've made a lot of great friends on this journey."