History’s Top High School Discus Thrower
By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 2000
Nik Arrhenius could lay claim to history’s top high school Discus thrower even though he does not hold the World or American record. This article will explain why I feel so strongly about Nik’s ability and it will also outline the success formula which made this possible.
Nik is beginning his senior year at Mountain View High School in Utah. Therefore, all of his personal bests were officially recorded as a junior. Also, Nik just barely turned 17 this last summer, so he is a young senior. His personal bests are as follows: Bench 405, Power Clean 315, Power Snatch 225, Parallel Squat 570, Front Squat 440, Push Press 375 and Dumbbell Bench 135 pounds. At 6-3 238, Nik runs a 4.65 forty and has thrown the Shot 63-0 feet, the Discus 213-5 and the Weight Throw 67-10 feet. Impressive to be sure but the high school Discus record is 225-2, set by Kamy Keshmiri (1987). Several others in high school history have also thrown farther. So how can I say that Nik is the best Discus Thrower ever? Just listen to this:
This last summer Nik entered some open meets and threw the college Discus and went against some of the best college and older throwers in the country. Nik threw 192-2 feet and came in third! He has thrown even farther than that in practice. To my knowledge, no other high school thrower has ever been able to throw the college Discus that far. It is a phenomenal feat. Nik still looks like a high school kid. He certainly has not as yet fully matured. I believe there is still a lot of room left for improvement. I can see him throwing the college Discus over 200 feet next season. That would be good enough to earn college All-American honors as a senior in high school.
Kamy Keshmiri’s best throw as a junior (1986) was 203-5 and a 56-6 foot throw in the Shot Put. Kamy added over 20 feet in the Discus and over nine feet in the Shot for his senior year. Nik has similar strength as Kamy. In high school Kamy achieved a 530 Parallel Squat, a 395 Bench and a 225 Power Snatch at 6-4 220 pounds, while running a 4.3 forty (hand held). Kamy was also lean at 4.6% body fat.
John Godina, a past BFS Athlete of the Year (1990), later went on to be recognized as the best American thrower in both the Discus and Shot in the 1990’s. In high school John was 6-4 and 260 pounds, running a 4.76 forty. John had a 580 Parallel Squat, a 350 Bench and a 310 Power Clean. His best high school throw was 210-4 in the Discus and 63-1 in the Shot.
What is the success formula? It comes in three parts. First, you must have adequate genes. Second, you must know exactly how to train and do it with great technique. Third, you must have the absolute best coaching. If any one of these three parts is missing, then it would be very tough to compete at the highest level no matter how hard one tried. Kami’s father was a former Olympian in the Discus. He started Kamy throwing at age nine and lifting in the 7th grade. By his senior year in high school, Kamy had already been bounding for nine years. Kamy had the genes, knew the correct way to train and had expert coaching.
John Godina also has good genes, but no more so than several thousand others his own age. John watched the BFS videos and was especially inspired by Stefan Fernholm, who is featured in many of our videos. That taught him how to train. John also went to the top throwing camps in high school and then went on to UCLA where he was with world-renowned throws coach, Art Venegas.
Nik has excellent genes. His father, Anders, was the top Shot Putter for Sweden for several years. Anders was also a teammate of Stefan Fernholm. He Benched over 500 pounds and threw well over 65 feet in the Shot a number of times. Anders was throwing at BYU when I was the strength coach there from 1971 to 1973. We have been good friends since and I can tell you that Anders knows how to train correctly and what to do. Anders has great knowledge on how to throw also but to his credit, he wanted his son to have the best. L. Jay Silvester lives close to Nik and L. Jay is a past Olympian, silver medal winner and world record holder in the Discus. He also is an Olympic Discus coach. L. Jay is Nik’s coach. The third part of the success formula is there in spades!
This formula has shown to be true this year with two other BFS athletes. P.J. Brown, son of BFS Clinician Jim Brown, Pole Vaulted nearly 17 feet last June in a national meet. P.J. will go to the University of Arkansas. The Razorback coaches said, “We want you here because we think you can be a national champion.” Even though P.J. is only 5-6 138 pounds, he was blessed with strength and speed genes. He has done the BFS program since the 4th grade and was coached on a regular basis with Earl Bell, one of the very best Pole Vault coaches in the world.
Brock Berlin, last year’s USA Today National Football Player of the Year and our most recent BFS Athlete of the Year, led Evangel Christian Academy to another undefeated season, to be crowned national champions by Fox Sports. Brock Power Cleaned 315 pounds from the floor. Not bad for a quarterback. So obviously, Brock has good genes. His coach, Dennis Dunn, is one of our BFS Clinicians and Brock went through his first BFS Clinic when he was in the 9th grade. Brock’s coaches are among the elite in coaching quarterbacks. Evangel’s QB’s have averaged throwing nearly 400 yards per game for 8 years! Brock graduated early from Evangel so he could make spring practice at the University of Florida. Coach Steve Spurrier has stated publically that Brock could be an important cog in the Gator offense as a true freshman quarterback.
“Wait!” you say, “Coach Shepard, didn’t you forget one important ingredient? What about attitude?” To me, if you want to compete at the highest level, attitude is a given. I expect you to be great. On a scale of one to ten, I expect you to be an eleven. Nik Arrhenius is an eleven in my book, but I will let you decide: Nik is a good student, an Eagle Scout, is always in class, has never been tardy, has never been offered drugs, has never even seen drugs, has never been offered alcohol, has chosen friends who never drink, has never chewed or smoked, has never missed a workout, has not had a soda for two years, eats no candy, no pastries, no potato chips, no donuts, no fries, no deserts and is always focused when he does a workout. Says Nik, “There is no music, no cable TV; it is total focus. You pick up your weights. You are in the weight room for one reason and that is to get better.”
Nik also plays football at Mountain View as a defensive end. He made All-Region as a junior but because of a big upcoming track meet commitment in Chile (South America), he might miss some of this year’s football games. Nik’s father said, “I like Nik playing football now but at first I didn’t. You always worry about injuries. Nik has had fun playing plus I believe football has helped him with agility and quickness.”
Nik’s football goal is to win a Region championship and then see what happens at state. His track goals are to break Kami’s national Discus record, throw 67 feet in the Shot and 70-plus in the Weight Throw. Nik has the philosophy that success comes through hard work and setting goals. “Do whatever you can to attain those goals,” advises Nik.
“Knowledge is power,” so they say, and Nik knows how and why to train. “Everything in throwing comes from the legs. That is why the Power Clean, Snatch and Squats are so important.”
In the Discus Ring, Nik tries to relax and get his positions right. “You can’t get too much in your head, but mentally you have got to be focused. It’s a little different in football. You have to get intense but at the same time, you have to get your assignment correct. You must be in the right position and help your teammates. You should always be mentally up and don’t let anyone else get down. The weight roo