Gabriel Staehling always was a big kid.
He played basketball at Blanchester Middle School but he didn’t like it.
“It just wasn’t my thing,” he said.
He didn’t play football, but played at football games as a member of the marching band.
“Football and band don’t mix well,” Staehling said. “I started watching football and got interested in it.”
Coaches were begging Staehling to suit up for the Wildcats but he didn’t give it a try right away. The coaches continued to track Staehling, hoping he would relent.
“At first it didn’t really bother me because I wasn’t interested,” he said. “Then I thought I’d try it out. I wasn’t very athletic but I started doing it. It was rewarding.”
After Staehling’s 2020 spring season was wiped out by Covid-19, he went out for track in 2021 and was able to compete on the team with his brother Kellen and sister Daelyn.
He has grown since his first season as a thrower and his risen to the top of the BHS discus chart, breaking Joe Kratzer’s long-standing school record.
Staehling also will compete Saturday morning in the OHSAA Division II Track and Field Championships boys discus throw competition 9:30 a.m. just outside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the Ohio State campus.
Staehling will be the first of 19 throwers in the discus competition Saturday morning. He leads off heat 1.
After the preliminary heats are complete, the top nine throwers advance to the finals which immediately follow Saturday. The top eight overall finishers then go inside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium to receive their medals on the podium.
Staehling’s regional effort of 140-8 is 18th among the state qualifiers, however his school record throw of 153-10 moves him up the list a few spots. However, he’ll likely have to get closer to 160-0 to reach the finals.
Staehling wanted to get Kratzer’s record but never thought about the state meet. But after winning most of his meets and then breaking Kratzer’s mark, Staehling thought “maybe I have a shot at state.”
His goal will be to do his best but isn’t now, nor has Staehling been all about winning. In fact, he realizes there is benefit in simply competing, win or lose.
“I like to do good but if I lose, it’s just another lesson,” he said.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @wnjsports