Esko grad is an All-American thrower

 

March 22, 2024

UW-Eau Claire

Gage Stankiewicz of Esko, far right, became an All-American in the shot put this month. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire junior was in the top eight at the NCAA Division III indoor meet, finishing in fifth-place. Teammates Yakob Ekoue, middle, finished first and Adam Strouf was fourth.

Gage Stankiewicz is now an All-American in track and field after the NCAA Division III meet in Virginia Beach, Virginia, earlier this month. A junior at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the 2021 Esko High School grad had the longest throw of his career at 57 feet, 5 inches to gain fifth place and All-America status during the March 8-9 meet.

"Early in the year I was still overcoming an injury from last year and it affected me along with putting too much pressure on trying to hit 17 meters," Stankiewicz said.

Stankiewicz had another personal best throw in the Last Chance Meet in LaCrosse on March 1-2, throwing 56 feet, 4.75 inches and crossing the 17-meter barrier, of 55 feet, 9 inches.

"In February of last year, I sprained my ankle and had to have ligament surgery," Stankiewicz said. "I still have a ways to go to completely heal, but I am glad where I am at right now."


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Where he's at is pretty incredible, especially when you consider the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder is still trying to gain strength in his right leg - critical in creating power in the throwing circle.

"I just decided to go in and have fun and it made a big difference," he said. "It started when we were in LaCrosse and then it carried over to the national meet."

Stankiewicz finished behind two other throwers from UW-Eau Claire. Yakob Ekoue finished first and Adam Strouf finished fourth, while a thrower from Carthage took second and an Ohio Northern thrower finished third.

Stankiewicz started his career at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, where he was named Upper Midwest Athletic Conference indoor track and field Rookie of the Year in spring 2022. He elected to make the move to Eau Claire this year.


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"It is fun to go to practice every day, because you get pushed so hard by a great coaching staff and some other great throwers," Stankiewicz said. "We definitely have a good crew who bring a lot of energy as a group and it makes it easy to flourish in that environment."

The top eight throwers in the NCAA meet are named to the All-America team. Stankiewicz thinks there is more to come this year as the outdoor season is right around the corner.

"There is still a lot of room for me to grow as a thrower and in my strength," Stankiewicz said. "My frame gives me a lot of potential to add more strength and explosiveness, so I am excited about continuing to put in the work and seeing what happens."


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Of the four throwers who finished ahead of Stankiewicz at the national meet, the top three are seniors and will graduate this spring. The only underclassman thrower who finished ahead of him was his teammate, Adam Strouf, who finished fourth. That means the potential is there for the Esko grad to vie for the top spot next season if he can stay healthy and can continue to improve.

"It was very exciting and nice to meet one of the goals I had," Stankiewicz said of making All-America status. "I want to climb the podium next year and that means I have a lot more work to do."

Now that Stankiewicz has blown past the 17-meter mark, he is focusing on relaxing, having fun and getting better.

"I have so much room to grow," he said. "Knowing all that makes me even more excited about putting in the work and getting better."

 
 

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