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Chris Murphy, Published June 05 2013

VIDEO: Ottertail Central thrower's presence is seen and heard

Fargo - Do not be alarmed if there are a few screams heard within ear distance of Hamline University’s track in St. Paul at the Minnesota track and field state meet Friday and Saturday.

That’s just Steffan Stroh screaming after launching a discus or the shot put for the track team from Ottertail Central – a consolidation of Battle Lake, Henning and Underwood.

Don’t worry. He’s OK after sending the discus 153 feet, 1 inch and the shot 51-6, as he did at the Class 1A, Section 6 meet. He’s just screaming for ice cream.

“Coach always says, ‘If you scream, you get ice cream,’ ” Stroh said. “We always get ice cream once a year, so we all do it. It’s just become a habit now.”

That coach is Ottertail Central assistant coach Jay Mark. He’s been coaching Stroh at the shot put and discus for six years. Good thing he isn’t his science teacher.

“I tell them it’s a proven science that it improves your performance by 30 percent,” Mark said. “I don’t know if that’s true.”

Whatever works.

Stroh is returning to defend his Minnesota Class 1A state championship from last season in the discus and is back to try to win the shot put after coming in second place last season at state. With last year’s shot put champion Brian Blasey having graduated from Ada-Borup, Stroh would be next in line.

“He’s always had a drive to be the best,” Mark said. “And that’s in everything that he does. Even though he’s not my child, it’s like I’m a proud parent.”

Stroh will take his track talents to North Dakota State, but he is no one-trick pony.

Stroh has been in choir since fifth grade and is in the Underwood High School band. He can play tuba, trumpet, baritone and a little guitar.

He’s been a three-sport athlete for more than four years. It’s not often a basketball and all-state football player performs the leading role in “Bye Bye Birdie,” but Stroh is that exception.

Wrap this together with a 3.9 grade-point average, and it creates one of the four athletes in the state with the Minnesota State High School League Academics, Arts and Athletics Award.

That’s Stroh.

“That’s what’s nice about being in a small school,” Stroh said. “I can do all those things and it’s normal.”

And choir apparently does more than just help his after-throw scream.

“We do a lot of dancing in choir, so that kind of helps my form,” Stroh said.

Stroh comes from a musical family and a track family. It was trips to track meets for his older brother, who ran the 1,600, and his older sister, who was a thrower at Minnesota-Duluth, where Stroh’s interest in track developed. The decision for which part of track and field Stroh wanted to compete in was pretty much made for him.

“I’m too big to run,” Stroh said. “And I’m not fast.”

The rest of his life decisions have been his own.

“He works harder than everybody else,” Mark said. “He just has that determination and work ethic to become a champion in everything he does.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548