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Eric Peterson, Published May 02 2010

Track and Field: MSUM thrower Enyi thriving after early struggles

Anthony Enyi nearly didn’t survive at Minnesota State Moorhead.

In his second year at the university, Enyi was booted from the football and track teams for poor grades and was close to being kicked out of school.

“I was on the verge of losing everything,” said Enyi, from Lakeville, Minn. “One more bad semester, and I wouldn’t be here.”

A couple years later, Enyi now is being singled out for his achievements rather than his past flaws.

The redshirt junior is on pace to graduate in three semesters with a double major in biology and exercise science. Enyi then plans to attend graduate school for physical therapy.

“In the process of trying to figure out how to get eligible, the light bulb went off that he wants to be more than just eligible, he wants to be more than just an athlete on the team; he wants to leave footprints,” MSUM track coach Keith Barnier said. “That’s what he’s doing now.”

Enyi didn’t have one of his best days Saturday at the Ron Masanz Invitational track meet at Alex Nemzek Stadium. Enyi placed seventh in the hammer throw (162 feet,

3 inches) and eighth in the shot put (44-7½) in soggy and overcast conditions.

However, Enyi is still in the midst of a strong track season. A team captain, Enyi set the school record in the weight throw (indoor) earlier this year with a toss of 64-0½. Enyi ranks No. 2 in school history in the hammer throw (outdoor) with a toss of 193-2.

He is one of four finalists in all sports for male athlete of the year at MSUM.

“He’s a great teammate,” said MSUM throws coach Scott Wavrin. “He changes the dynamic of all the throwers in our program by working hard all the time. My whole throwing program got better by him being in there.”

Enyi came to MSUM for football, but also decided to go out for the track team as a freshman.

Near the end of first year at MSUM, Enyi hurt his right shoulder during spring football drills. The injury required surgery.

That marked the second time he need to repair that shoulder as he also hurt it as a senior in high school.

Entering his second year at MSUM, not only was Enyi dealing with a bad shoulder, his grades were also hurting.

Enyi said his grade-point average dipped below 2.0 and he was dismissed from both the football and track teams.

“I had just the wrong mentality and poor priorities and it was always football and track first, friends and then school,” Enyi said. “Once I lost football, I realized that things need to change. Unfortunately, it took that long, but it’s been for the better.”

Enyi credits his parents – Michael and Denise Enyi – and his girlfriend – Keri Dowzak, a senior on the Dragons volleyball team last fall – for their support when his grades lagged.

“For me it was just looking in the mirror and asking myself ‘What do I want to do with myself?’” Enyi said. “I didn’t want to fall into the category of wasted talent.”

Enyi said he now carries a cumulative grade-point average in the B-minus range. His GPA has been around a 3.5 over the past four semesters.

After he turned around his grades, Enyi decided not to play football due to his shoulder injuries.

Enyi has been told he will likely need a shoulder replacement in his mid-to-late 30s.

“I never dreamt of coming here and helping change the program around in track,” Enyi said. “In football, I feel like if I would have stayed healthy, I could have been part of a transition.”

Enyi is tied for the 12th best throw in NCAA Division II this season, even though this just his second full season of college competition. He didn’t go out for track in high until his junior year.

“I’m still on my way up,” Enyi said. “I’m still not where I should be, but I like that I’m putting more effort into my work ethic.”

Enyi said his goal is to compete for a national championship by the end of his MSUM career.

“I’m just so happy for him because he went from struggling to get on the team to now trying to win a national championship,” Barnier said. “That road, that just doesn’t happen that often to where somebody makes the climb that quickly as far as being nationally competitive.

“Somewhere along the way, he wanted to achieve something and then did the math and then did the work it took to achieve it. That’s the only way to achieve what he’s achieved; to do the work it takes to throw that far.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.