The state track meet is Paul Kaczor’s last official athletic endeavor as a high school athlete and the St. Cloud Tech senior is soaking it all in.
“It’s pretty astonishing how much support track and field is getting,” said Kaczor as he nodded toward the standing room-only crowd. “I have a lot of family and fans here from the city of St. Cloud.
“I can’t thank them all, or the city for that matter, enough.”
Kaczor was the area’s top Class 2A finisher in Friday’s first session at Hamline University. He finished fifth in the shot put with a toss of 54 feet, 1½ inches. It was off his section-winning distance of 56-7¾, which is less than a foot off Tech’s school record and beat the competition by more than five feet.
Andover senior Thomas Anderson won his second straight title with a state-record toss of 65-4¼.
Tech’s shot put record is held by Lane Kelly, a 1978 Tech graduate who wound up being a Division II All-American shot-putter at St. Cloud State in the early 1980s.
Kaczor knows all about him.
He was a football teammate of his dad’s at SCSU. Ron Kaczor, the former Tech head football coach and the throws coach in track, passed away from cancer a few years ago.
“I didn’t get the school record,” Kaczor said with a smile. “But I passed up about four family members on the All-Time Kaczor list.”
Kaczor was counting his older brothers David, Mark and Andrew, his father and family friend Dave Dirkes, an Albany graduate and SCSU football teammate of Ron’s who won a state shot put title in high school.
David Kaczor is Tech’s throws coach, so he was helping his younger brother beat his own records. Mark Kaczor is throwing the shot and discus at Yale. Andrew was a captain and offensive lineman at St. Cloud State.
And Paul Kaczor’s high school career has a finale today. He competes in discus, though his chances of a top-five finish — which earns you all-state honors — will be more difficult. He is seeded 17th.
“Regardless of what happens, I’m really happy with finishing fifth,” Kaczor said. “I’m just excited to be down here.
“As a thrower, I get to see people run who are at least three times faster than me.
“The competition here is great.”
Kaczor is headed to Harvard in the fall, where he will play football.
He hopes to talk to the track coaches to see if they might let him continue with that career as well.
“I know there’s a lot to do in college and Division I is not huge on two-sport athletes,” he said. “But I’ll show them my numbers and see what they think.”
His summer plans are to work out in preparation for football, help tutor students in math (including his younger brother Thomas), and get a part-time job so he’ll have some cash to spend in college.
“The bottom line here,” Kaczor said of the state track meet, “is that nobody can be disappointed no matter what happens. This is a fun place.”