Aarik Wilson will have plenty to look forward to next week when he competes in the triple jump at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Sacramento.
First of all, the Fallon jumper will be bidding for a spot on the U.S. team that will go on to the Olympics on Aug. 13-29 in Athens. Second, he will be looking for some redemption in the same stadium where he experienced a disappointing performance at the 2003 NCAA Championships. And third, he will be competing in front of what amounts to a family reunion, including grandparents Grant and Nisha Kremers from Carson City and his mother, Kirsten Wilson, a teacher at Northside Elementary School in Fallon.
"His whole family is going to be there, his great grandmother, his dad," Nisha Kremers said. "We're all very excited for him."
The Trials begin on Friday and continue through July 18 at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex. Qualifying for the men's triple jump will be Thursday, July 15, and the finals two days later.
Wilson, a 2001 graduate of Churchill County High School, comes in with an outdoor season best of 56-5 1/2, a mark that placed second at the NCAA Championships last month in Austin, Texas, and a mark that currently ranks fifth best among Americans in 2004. He has finished as the NCAA outdoor national triple jump runner-up twice in the last three years. But it's the memory from last year - when he was plagued by a foot stress fracture and failed to even qualify for the finals in Sacramento - that he wants to forget.
"I'm never going to be embarrassed like I was at the NCAAs," Wilson said in an interview last year. "I hate to lose, period. I can't stand losing. I try to be a good loser, but I still can't stand it."
Wilson's grandparents have had the opportunity to see him compete on a few occasions this year. They were in Provo, Utah, two weeks when he placed second behind Kenta Bell (the 2003 USA champion and still No. 1 so far this year) in a meet at BYU.
"We've been to several meets this year ... we've seen him in Texas, Utah and Indiana twice," Nisha Kremers said. "It's just unbelievable to see how far Aarik has gotten. We always knew he had the talent, but this is amazing."
Who knows what's going to happen? A trip to Athens is within reach.
"It just depends on what they do on a particular day," she said.
Mike Louisiana is another Carson City resident who has a keen interest in the Olympic Trials. Louisiana was the NCAA discus champion at BYU in 1971 - with a mark of 195-feet, 1-inch that still stands as the seventh best throw in school history - he was ranked No. 10 overall among Americans that year and then No. 7 in 1976.
Louisiana, who organized the Nevada Throwers Club and has long been involved in coaching high school throwers locally, hopes to be in Sacramento to watch the discus next week - the women's final will be on Monday and the men's final next Sunday, July 18 - and in the meantime, he will be keeping an eye on the men's shot put.
"The shot's going to be pretty exciting," Louisiana said. "I mean, you could have a 70-footer staying home, that's how strong these guys are. You have (Christian) Cantwell for one, (Adam) Nelson and (John) Godina for another, and Reece Hoffa. It's really hard to say what's going to happen. It just depends on who shows up that day."
The men's shot put final will be held on Saturday.
The four have collectively posted the top 12 throws in the world this year and 16 of the top 18 overall. Cantwell, the world indoor champion, currently owns the best outdoor throw in the world with his 73-11 1/2 and is undefeated in his last 14 competitions. Godina, a three-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist (bronze in 2000, silver in 1996), is No. 2 with his outdoor season best of 71-2 3/4. And Nelson, the defending Olympic Trials champion and Olympic silver medalist from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, has thrown 71-1 1/2. Hoffa is the world indoor silver medalist and has a season and personal best of 71-1 1/4.
There could be some local interest in the men's hammer throw because Luke Woydziak, a McQueen High School graduate, has thrown 224-0 - a provisional qualifying mark for the Trials.
Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal. He can be reached at 881-1220 or at email@example.com