No Olympic Trials disappointment for Woydziak | NevadaAppeal.com

No Olympic Trials disappointment for Woydziak

Dave Price

SACRAMENTO – Luke Woydziak had every reason in the world to be disappointed late Monday afternoon.

He had gotten off to a promising start during the finals of the men’s hammer throw with a solid opening mark of 223-feet, 10-inches in front of a crowd that included his family from Reno as well as a good-sized contingent of friends who came to watch him at Sacramento State University’s Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.

Woydziak, 27, who competes for the Pacific Bay Track Club, was coming off a lifetime best throw of 224-1 in qualifying on Saturday and was hoping to get the ball even farther out in the finals. It didn’t happen. He fouled on his next two throws and he dropped from sixth-place after the first throw to ninth overall – one place and six inches shy of getting past the preliminary round.

So there will be no trip to Athens for the Olympics, and now, he returns to his “day job” working as an engineer.

Disappointed? Woydziak certainly didn’t sound that way afterward.

“You get into this sport because you enjoy it,” Woydziak said. “I enjoy the hammer, but it’s just my hobby. How beneficial is that to the world? I don’t know. I’m just trying to do what I can.

“I thought I had a good one in me today. My second throw, the one that hit (the cage), I thought that one would have been it. I thought it was going to be a p.r.”

Woydziak would have loved to have gotten off a 230-foot throw Monday, yet he also realizes there are other priorities in life.

For instance, the 2000 Fresno State University graduate works full-time in addition to keeping up with his daily training regimen.

“I’m an engineer. That’s my day job,” he said. “You’ve got to have a job because nobody’s paying me. I lose money to do this.”

Even as much as Woydziak loves the hammer throw, he regards his day job as pretty important, too.

“I work for Natus on the main line for newborn hearing screening,” he said. “That is pretty exciting. I’ve had a chance to see newborns and to see how our work helps them, so that’s probably a bigger deal than throwing the hammer 230 feet – that would only benefit me.”

Woydziak’s willingness to help others was evident on Sunday when – on the eve of competing in the Olympic Trials finals – he took time to speak to a group of children.

“I gave a little talk to some kids for a charity group. I went over to their house and spoke to about 30 of them about what got me to where I am now,” he said. “The theme of it was about hard work, that everything you do in life, you’ve got to put in a lot of hard work. I enjoyed doing that. If I had a chance to inspire some kid and have an effect on their life, to me, that’s what this is all about.”

And, if all goes well, he wouldn’t mind returning to the Olympic Trials in 2008.

“People ask me when I’m going to give it up stop chasing my dream,” Woydziak said. “It’s kind of funny, but every time I hear somebody say something like, I seem to jump and get a little closer. Four more years, I’ll only be 31 and they say 31 to 33 is when you hit your peak, so I want to keep trying.

“You know, I came in here 20th and came out ninth. That means I beat 11 guys I wasn’t supposed to beat, so I figure that just being here is frosting on the cake.”

Dave Price can be reached at 881-1220 or at dprice@nevadaappeal.com

INFO BREAKOUT:

Woydziak is a graduate of Burroughs High School in Ridgecrest, Calif., who went on to throw for Butte College and later at Fresno State. His sister, Sarah, throws the shot put and hammer and is entering her senior year at the University of Nevada.