Willy Irwin had returned home with two medals from the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium three weeks ago.
Then the Clovis East High junior got a call about 9 p.m. that Saturday: “My coaches wanted me to come back.” To hoist a piece of hardware — not a problem for the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder and The Bee’s boys track and field Athlete of the Year.
To take some pictures — maybe more of a problem for the big guy, who would much rather launch a shot put or a discus with little fanfare than pose in front of a camera.
But it wasn’t just any piece of hardware. And these weren’t every day snapshots.
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This was about standing with teammate Michael Peterson, a pole vaulter, exposing teeth and being photographed while holding a large, stylish plaque, representing the boys team title of the state meet.
Yes, the Timberwolves shared it with three other schools after they tied with 20 points. But, no, Clovis East wouldn’t have been close had not Irwin come through — twice — scoring eight points with a second-place 188-feet, 8-inch throw in the discus and contributing another four points with a fourth-place 58-7 1/2-inch toss in the shot.
Peterson accounted for the other eight points with a silver-medal 15-11 leap in the vault.
“Had anything gone differently for me or Mike — one place lower — we would have lost it,” said Irwin, who entered the meet with a best of 177-6 in the discus (that would have placed sixth).
“Hopefully,” he said, “this will motivate everybody to show it’s possible we can win the state championship and have a chance to do it again next year.”
About Willy Irwin Vitals: Clovis East, junior, shot put/discus
He’s qualified because: After placing second in the shot put (58-10 1/2) and third in the discus (168-0) in the Central Section meet, he placed second in the discus (188-8) and fourth in the shot (58-7 1/2) in the CIF State Track and Field Championships, contributing 12 of 20 team points that earned the Timberwolves a share of the school’s first state team title in any sport.
He said it: “Within two years, Willy has increased his shot over 10 feet and the discus by 50. He’s like a little dog standing at the door, wagging his tail — ‘Let’s go.’ He’s a throw-a-holic who thrives on competition. And it paid off.” —Timberwolves coach Jim Farmer