Jordan Burchfiel took second in the discus at the Class 2A state track meet last season with a then-personal record throw of 145 feet, 7 inches.
The Cascade Christian High senior set a goal of 160 feet this spring, and could climb into the state's top 10 among all-time Class 2A throwers with a fling of 163-2 or further.
The goal seemed realistic, considering that the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Burchfiel is bigger, stronger and quicker than a year ago.
But the discus can be track and field's most maddening event. It requires a certain amount of strength, but also a great deal of finesse and technique.
Trying to strong-arm a discus is akin to bullying a golf club. Such tactics all but guarantee failure.
Burchfiel simply tried too hard the first month of the season. But he came within a foot of his all-time best mark at a meet in Brookings on April 14, then launched the platter 155-8 to win the Crater Classic on Saturday.
The big toss was fifth-best in the state this season, regardless of classification. It was also a 10-foot PR.
"I've finally been able to relax a little bit these last two meets," Burchfiel says. "It's my senior year and I really want to do my best, but I was stressing out by trying too hard, and that made me stress out even more."
Adds Cascade Christian throwing coach Mike Schaan: "As soon as you try to muscle that thing, it's a train wreck."
Those who throw the plate-like implement spin one and a half revolutions in a ring the size of a phone booth. One small glitch in form can lead to a poor throw or one that sails out of bounds.
"Foot speed, arm speed and timing are all important," Burchfiel says, "and then you've got to follow through just the right way."
Burchfiel's performance at the Crater Classic was especially impressive because he launched his huge throw on a rainy day. The air was heavy and the ring proved slippery.
"That's something you just have to tune out," says Burchfiel, who had two other throws sail past the 140-foot marker.
Burchfiel gives a lot of credit to Schaan, who has fine-tuned shot putters and discus throwers for two decades. Schaan produced two state champions (Scott Myers and David Faaeteete) during a six-year coaching stint at North Medford, and has been mentor to a host of district champions.
Schaan now teaches and coaches football at Crater, and volunteers as the throwing coach at Cascade Christian. Another of his pupils — sophomore Rachael Buck — ranks No. 1 among Class 2A female discus throwers with a mark of 116-4.
"He's taught me everything I know," says Burchfiel, who worked under Schaan as a freshman at North Medford before transferring to Cascade Christian. "He knows all the technical stuff and he's really supportive.
"I'll watch certain kids from other schools and think, wow, that poor kid needs a coach. I'm really fortunate to have a guy like coach Schaan."
Schaan worked with the Challenger throwers twice a week two years ago, but last year began showing up five days a week at the school's Naval Army Reserve practice field on Old Stage Road. Cascade Christian High has no area in which to practice track.
"You get attached to the kids and want to see them do well," explains Schaan, "and pretty soon you're out there every day."
Burchfiel was a first-team all-state defensive tackle and second-team all-state fullback on Cascade Christian's state championship football team last fall and will head to Southern Oregon University on scholarship next fall. He also plans to do track.
Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org