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Muscling up

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe junior James Laughlin practices with Laker teammates before the start of track and field season. Laughlin is in good position to bring home hardware from the State Championship in the shot put and discus.
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Shot put and discus stud James Laughlin set some lofty goals at the start of track and field season. Assuming he reaches them ” and time is on the junior’s side ” he’ll own two North Tahoe High School records.

Neither mark will be easy to surpass, despite his dominance in both events at the Northern 2A Divisional Zones this past weekend.

But Lakers head coach Warren Mills has faith, and he’s seen a few throwers come and go since the school opened in 1974.



“I think they are attainable; records are made to be broken,” said Mills, now in his 34th year as North Tahoe’s track and field coach. “He’ll certainly have to work for it, but he definitely has the potential.”

The school’s shot put record stands at 54 feet, 7 inches, its discus record at 175 feet, 9 inches. Both were set by Joey Lochridge, a 1999 grad who went on to throw at LSU and has since settled in Boise, Idaho, as a police officer, Mills said.



At zones on Saturday, Laughlin heaved the shot put almost 7 feet farther than second-place Chris Lennon of Independence, muscling it 50 feet, 7 inches to Lennon’s 43-feet, 10.75 inches.

In the discus, Laughlin won with a throw of 149 feet, 1 inch, which was nearly 12 feet farther than Jermaine Stephens of Rite of Passage (137-05). Both marks are personal records for Laughlin.

“He’s a man monster,” Mills said, “and he’s still so young.”

Based on results from the Southern 2A regional meet, Laughlin ” also a standout lineman on the football team ” is in good position to bring home hardware from the 2A State Championship this weekend at Damonte Ranch High School. Leading the South in both events was Nick Bratton of The Meadows, who won with marks of 41-11.25 and 118-06, respectively.

Aside from his desire to win at State, Laughlin has extra motivation to topple the school records.

At the beginning of the season, longtime North Tahoe throwers coach Glen “Skip” Piechocinski made a deal: break the shot put record and the coach would shave his face. Laughlin said then that Piechocinski also agreed to sell him his car if he broke the discus record.

Mills, inspired by the topic to file through old Laker records from his personal archives, said Laughlin is shaping into one of his best throwers.

Lochridge obviously tops that list. Mike Mariani is right up there, recording a discus toss of 151-11 sometime in the early 1980s, Mills said. Other names the coach dug up were Steve Ames, now the head coach of the Truckee High basketball team, Billy Harrison and Joe Sutter.

Ames, a multi-sport athlete at North Tahoe in the late ’70s, threw the shot put somewhere in the “51-foot range,” Mills said. Harrison posted a mark of 53-09 in the shot put, and Sutter threw the discus about 147 feet, Mills said.

With still a year to go, Laughlin already has added his name to that list.


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