MOUNT VERNON, Ia. — Sitting inside the Mount Vernon weight room, his sweat still pouring from another grueling post-practice workout, Tristan Wirfs leaned back, chuckled and produced an answer full of honesty.
“As a freshman, if you had told me all this stuff is going to happen to me,” he said, “I definitely wouldn’t have believed you.”
Reflection has been constant as Wirfs enters the final leg of a decorated and versatile high school career. His size and stature have always fallen on the larger end, but his transformation from a “chubby” and “not very strong” freshman to a high-end Division I prospect has cemented Wirfs as one of Mount Vernon’s most dominant athletes — and perhaps one of the state’s.
As an Iowa-bound, U.S. Army All-American offensive lineman, Wirfs’ football accolades are well-established by now. It’s first-team this, all-state that. Find a list, he’s on it.
Then toss in a wrestling state title and numerous historical performances in track and field — as well as the potential for more hardware at next month’s state meet. Top that off with Wirfs’ bubbling yet fiercely competitive demeanor, and it’s easy to see why the praise comes gushing in.
“He is truly, truly excited about every little milestone that he accomplishes,” said Sarah Wirfs, Tristan’s mother. “That’s the best part for me, to see that genuine, true love of the sports. Every single one of them. That’s the most important and the best thing about it.”
Wirfs’ latest wave of supremacy has arrived inside the throwing circle, where the 6-foot-6 specimen has enthralled crowds all season with record-breaking heaves in the shot put and discus. After launching the third-best shot put (65-10½) and fifth-longest discus throw (195-2) in state history earlier this month, Wirfs will have countless eyes on him again at this weekend’s Drake Relays, which boasts one of the deeper crops of throwers in some time.
“We haven’t had three shot putters throw over 60 feet at the Drake Relays since 1977,” said Mike Jay, the event’s veteran public address announcer and longtime track and field figure. “And this year, we could have five — maybe more — and the discus competition could even be better.
“The Iowa people and the people who come to the Drake Relays from outside the state, they’re going to see as good of a high school boys throwing competition as any state in the country.”
Wirfs’ journey to elite throwing status doesn’t exactly begin with much substance. He started shot put in seventh grade — discus as a freshman — and there was no undying love for the sport. Simply put, he needed a spring activity, and being a bigger kid made throwing the logical choice.