Now, he has a monster throw to match his monster size.
At last week’s Region III Track and Field Championships, Pillans uncorked the shot put 49 feet, 11.5 inches — more than seven feet further than his previous best — to win the event and catapult him to his first state championship meet.
His surprise performance has put Pillans into state title contention — he is seeded second — when the meet begins today at Dimond High School in Anchorage.
That couldn’t have been said more than a month ago when his personal-best was 42-4.5 and struggling to stay eligible.
Pillans hadn’t competed since April 18, but worked hard to get academically eligible to participate at regions.
The hard work in the classroom paid off inside the circle.
On his first of four throws at regions, he landed a mark of 48 feet. It was then he knew he was going to have a day to remember.
“It literally felt like getting hit in the gut,” said Pillans, who also won the discus with a mark of 128-07. “I was like, ‘Really.”’
His winning mark came on his last toss, which put him in front of teammate Leo Sega, who placed second with a personal-best 48-05.5.
Pillans came up half an inch short of 50 feet, which has only been eclipsed twice in Kodiak High history by Floyd Galloway in 1973 (53-09.25) and Michael Odell in 2008 (53-03.25).
Pillans wasn’t upset that he fell short of reaching a milestone mark.
“How can you be disappointed with that? This is what this next week is for,” Pillans said.
Throwers’ coach Jim Schnick said Pillans thrives on competition.
“We have been trying to work our form so we are peaking at the right time of the year,” Schnick said. “He really put everything together last weekend.”
So did throwers Sega, Richelle Walker and Barbara Sega — Leo’s younger sister. All three will join Pillans in Anchorage.
“All four of them have a chance to place really high this weekend,” Schnick said.
Sega, a senior making his third state appearance, believes Kodiak has the strength to take the top two spots in the shot put.
“He (Pillans) deserved it big time,” Sega said. “He got in there and threw it his best. Hopefully, we can score pretty high at state too. I’m hoping it is no different — first and second that is real good.”
Walker, a sophomore making her second state appearance, is competing in both the shot and the discus. Her discus mark of 109-08 set a new career-high by 12 feet.
“I stepped in the ring and was just ready to go,” she said. “Everything just went together … I just had a great throw. It was exciting.”
Walker is seeded second in the discus and ninth in the shot with a mark of 31-08.
This is Schnick’s second year working with the throwers and he doubled Kodiak’s state qualifiers from last year.
“He is a very inspirational coach,” Walker said. “He helps us out a lot with making sure we get everything down. He helps us on the side after our first throws and corrects us — we just take it in and throw our best.”
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at firstname.lastname@example.org.