Viking of the week: Wes Hetcher (Men’s Track & Field)

Photo by Sarah Grubbe.

This week I had the privilege to talk with senior Wes Hetcher. Over the last two track and field meets of the season Wes has been on fire. At the Vikings invitational threw to a first-place finish in the javelin and vaulted to a second-place finish in the pole vault. At the Conference Championships, he capped off his career with an impressive fifth place showing in pole vault reaching 12 feet 6 inches.


Shane Farrell: How do you feel you ended the season?


Wes Hetcher: I would have liked to perform a bit better at the conference meet, but I can’t complain with the overall results. I’m glad I got the opportunity to be so competitive, and feel good about how it all went down.


SF: What was your favorite track and field memory?


WH: One of the reasons I did football and track for four years is because of the people. My teammates have been some of the most supportive and valuable people I’ve dealt with at Lawrence. Cheering them on at meets, eating dinners, doing summer research, any and all the other times we’ve shared have meant a lot to me. Particularly, cheering on Noah Shea as he jumped out of his mind at both the indoor and outdoor conference meets for the triple jump this year was incredible.


SF: You came in first in the javelin a couple meets ago. How was that?


WH: It was a bit of a surprise. All the meets this year had great competition and I just wanted to throw well at home, in front of friends and family. On my last throw, I just released cleaner and popped out my best throw ever. It was a bonus to be called a winner.


SF: What’s the key to a good javelin throw?


WH: I’m no expert, and I’m not even the best at this school, but I believe it’s all about getting the javelin moving quickly. Being able to leverage hip rotation and shoulder flexibility to whip your hand around is important and helps to make the good throws feel effortless.


SF: You came in fifth in the conference for pole vault, where you happy with how you did?


WH: That’s a real tough question. I came to Lawrence expecting to mainly just vault, and ended up being more involved in a variety of events. As great an experience as that has been, I’ve not put as much into my vaulting as I’d like. So, I think I could have done quite a bit better, but that was sacrificed for scoring points in other events. Overall, I’m proud of how I performed and even more proud of my teammates.


SF: What is advice you would give to a rookie pole vaulter?


WH: Stop thinking. Just vault without distracting yourself by thinking you know how to vault. To a freshman with some vaulting experience, this is even more vital advice. Trusting the system in place and realizing that you’ve got a coach because you don’t know what you’re doing isn’t as common as it should be. We have an excellent coach in Lisha Zill, and her knowledge and experience of the event is massively helpful. To a true beginner, I’d say watching good vaulters on YouTube, at high-profile meets or wherever is probably the best thing to begin wrapping your head around how to vault.