On Saturday, May 26, 2018, Lanesboro native Eric Holst made a mark for himself as he became the field-event national champion in the NCAA Championships in LaCrosse, Wis., with an incredible 211-4 hammer throw.
“I started throwing in seventh grade, but I didn’t get to start throwing the hammer until my freshman year of college,” states Holst, which makes his accomplishment even more impressive.
Holst attends the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and is proud to be part of the St. Thomas “Tommies” and will be entering his fourth and final year of eligibility for St. Thomas this year. He will be a senior mechanical engineering student this coming year and expects to graduate in May 2019.
He is currently interning with Delkor Systems in Arden Hills, Minn., where they manufacture robotic machines which fold, load, and close cardboard boxes for the food industry. “I am a mechanical design intern so I assist the other engineers in designing parts for our machines,” explains Holst.
Holst is the first field-event national champion in 10 years for the University of St. Thomas, as he won the hammer throw at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
When he first started throwing the hammer as a freshman in 2016 Holst threw the hammer 120-10 for a season best, which ranked just 495th in Division III. In 2017, he threw 177-10 to reach 33rd best on the Division III chart as a sophomore. This spring his pre-nationals best was 204-9, which was third best on the season charts. Holst recently broke a 25-year-old St. Thomas school record with a toss of 204-9.
His hammer best would rank in the top 40 of all throws at all three NCAA levels this spring, and would rank fifth in the Big Ten Conference. Holst’s career best heave of 211-4 is ranked ninth best throw in Division III history.
Although Holst has never won an MIAC title (he is a two-time runner-up) he is now a NCAA Champion. Holst was the only MIAC National Champion this school year from the sports of track and field, swim-dive, golf, tennis or cross country.
“I made nationals for the first time during the indoor season this year in the weight throw, where I competed poorly,” states Holst. “Then during outdoor I was off to a very slow start due to transitioning from a 3-turn to a 4-turn technique. I was on the bubble of even qualifying for nationals, but then I started to find my rhythm with about four weeks left in the season and I started throwing big PRs every week and it never stopped,” he says.
Holst is the first individual Tommie male athlete to win a NCAA championship in six years. He joins a small group of 12 MIAC men with a top-10 Division III all-time ranking in outdoor track and field.
These statistics listed on Holst do not come easy – it takes hard work and dedication to achieve the goals that Holst has attained thus far.
“Competitions are extremely intense,” says Holst. “Throwing is an aggressive event and you need to be able to focus on each throw without any distractions. You need to stay extremely calm up until the throw in order to not overthink your technique and end up doing something wrong, but as soon as you step into the circle, you need to become aggressive and ready to put everything you have into the throw, which can be a difficult switch for some people to flip,” he explains.
The event is run by splitting up all the competitors into multiple flights, usually decided by seed distances. Each competitor get three throws in their flight, and once all flights are done, the top nine throwers make the final where they get another three throws to try and better their mark.
Practice begins the first week of November and competitions take place basically every weekend from January 1 to the end of May each year, with some weeks having a midweek competition as well.
Holst is thankful for those who are always there for him and come to the competitions. “My family has been incredibly supportive, they come to every meet and cheer me and my teammates on. They also bring food for us, which is always very popular amongst the team,” he says.
“My future plans are to get a job in my field after I’m done competing and immediately begin working,” states Holst. It seems that working hard and being dedicated is in this young man’s genes and he will undoubtedly attain many additional goals he sets for himself in life.