Team Player: Michael Lihrman
Although today Michael Lihrman x’15 holds the NCAA championship title for weight throw, his introduction to the sport didn’t come until his junior year at Rice Lake High School in northern Wisconsin.
Back then, the 6-foot-5 senior was looking for a way to stay fit after losing about eighty pounds. Someone recommended track and field, and soon Lihrman was throwing shot-put and discus. During his freshman year at UW-Stout, he began training in the weight and hammer throws, indoor and outdoor events in which athletes try to throw a heavy ball the longest distance. “Coming in, I definitely wanted to try it — it looks so interesting, so different than the rest of the events,” he says. “Something about it just clicked with me.”
Lihrman transferred to UW–Madison after the 2012 season, and he has already surpassed the distance he’d planned to throw during his last year of college. Now the economics major has set a more ambitious goal for his senior year.
“I’d really like to get the world record in the weight throw,” he says. “If I just continue to get stronger and have a healthy season, I think I’ll hit it.”
Lihrman’s best for weight throw — 79 feet, 71/2 inches — is about 41/2 feet from the record. His hammer throw of 233 feet, 9 inches also exceeds marks of past Olympians during their college years, and he’s optimistic about qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
While Lihrman makes his throws look simple, he says each one requires concentration, and one small mistake can be costly — especially when eleven months of training boil down to a few opportunities. “I just tell myself that I’ve got thousands of throws under my belt,” he says. “You’ve just got to keep positive and keep telling yourself that you’re going to do it, and you will.”
Published in the Fall 2014 issue