Who: Jason Schutz
From: Pagosa Springs
Who: Janay DeLoach
From: Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Event: jong jump
Who: Nicole Feest
From: Lombard, Ill.
Event: distance running
Honor: All-Midwest Region
Who: Rob Watson
From: London, Ontario
Honor: All-Midwest Region
Who: Brian Bedard, head coach
Jason Schutz came to CSU three years ago for one reason: Brian Bedard.
Bedard was an assistant coach for the CSU track and field team with a reputation for turning good athletes into great ones. The fact that Bedard specialized in throwing events, Schutz’s craft, didn’t hurt either.
And after wrapping up his first year as head coach this past weekend at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif., Bedard’s reputation stands vindicated.
Coming out of Pagosa Springs High School as a walk-on, Schutz wasn’t exactly All-American talent – like the 25 other athletes that had reached the status under Bedard.
“When I first came to CSU, I was undersized,” Schutz said. “I was not very strong.”
“His technique was terrible,” said Bedard of a younger Schutz.
But thanks to a never-quit mentality and a background from working on a ranch from his home on the Western Slope, Schutz got stronger and began to throw farther.
“Nine out of 10 kids would have quit because it’s such hard work,” Bedard said. “Most of the kids get too frustrated with all that I demand as a coach.”
Under the tutelage of Bedard, Schutz quickly became a force in the discus and hammer throw events. After top-ten finishes in the discus at the NCAA Regionals in each of his first two years, Schutz placed second this year and earned a spot in the national championships June 6-9 in Sacramento.
On his second throw of the final round, Schutz unleashed a personal-best of 191 feet, 5 inches – good enough for eighth place and recognition as an All-American.
The feat added Schutz to an elite list that includes seven other CSU males to earn All-American honors in the discus. Having coached half of those, Bedard said Schutz compares somewhat to Casey Malone, a four-time All-American and 2004 Olympian who also improved a vast amount under Bedard’s tutelage.
For both Bedard and Schutz, becoming one of the sport’s elite proved extremely gratifying.
“I was just really happy about it, being a walk-on,” Schutz said. “Obviously something like that felt really good. It was a good feeling especially after such a long season.”
But even before Schutz’s final round, CSU already had its 12th outdoor All-American in the past 13 years, thanks to senior Janay DeLoach.
Despite an injured leg, DeLoach placed sixth in the long jump. It was the second time in three months DeLoach was named an All-American after finishing fifth in the long jump at the indoor championships in March.
“She has a lot of poise,” Bedard said. “Her confidence was really big for the program. She just makes it look easy… she’s taken her performance to a whole new level. To execute at that level, it’s fun to see.”
Counting DeLoach and Schutz, Bedard has now coached 27 All-American performances in his 19 years at CSU. However, this year’s additions are the first for Bedard as a head coach.
Bedard said a decrease in sleep has been one of the noticeable differences in becoming the top dog.
“As an assistant, you could go home at night and not worry about any decisions with the team,” Bedard said. “Now I have to worry about everything.”
Rob Watson, steeplechase, and Nicole Feest, distance running, also competed for the Rams at the championships. Watson finished 15th in the finals while Feest placed 16th.
Staff writer Sean Star can be reached at email@example.com.