Lucas at Large: Block's accomplishments carry plenty of weight

Block_Dan_Elite_11_2.jpgLast weekend, UW men's track coach Ed Nuttycombe headed to an invitational meet in Arkansas with the thought of escaping the inclement Midwest spring. Think again. It rained in Fayetteville.

Nonetheless, he was able to get a good read on his three decathletes - David Grezesiak, Derek Steinbach and Ian Jansen. Despite the conditions, they finished second, third and sixth, respectively.

Grezesiak fell just short of a personal-best. "It was raining while he was throwing the discus,'' Nuttycombe said, "and he couldn't keep his footing. There was standing water everywhere.''

While that was happening, UW freshman Dan Block was making another splash in the discus. Competing in San Diego, he got off a throw of 192 feet, 5 inches; the longest by a collegian in the meet.

Consider this: Block has broken the school record in the discus in each of the past three outings.

"He's had some warm-up throws that have been in excess of 200 feet,'' Nuttycombe said. "It's just a matter of time before he catches one of those. He's showing there's more there.''

Block, who also throws the shot put, has already shown that he can make the adjustment to a higher level of competition after excelling as a high school thrower in the state of Illinois.

"There are a few events that don't change from high school to college,'' Nuttycombe said. "The 100 is still the 100 and the mile is still the mile. But the throwing implements get heavier.''

Nuttycombe paid Block the ultimate compliment by comparing him athletically to Joe Thomas, the former UW offensive tackle and Outland Trophy winner. Thomas also loved to compete in track.

"He's basically the same type of athlete,'' Nuttycombe said, "in that he's a very large person but he moves like he's much smaller. It's rare when you have big guys who move like Joe and Dan.''

Nuttycombe cited UW assistant Dave Astrauskas for bringing the best out of Block. Astrauskas previously coached at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville where he mentored Scott Block -- Dan's brother.

"Dan is tall and lanky and now his strength is starting to show; he's going to be a real good one,'' Nuttycombe said. "In the discus, he's already the best we've ever had; by far, no question.''

Nuttycombe is not prone to hyperbole. So his words carry weight. Literally.

"When it's all said and done,'' he predicted, "Dan Block is going to be the best weight guy we've ever had here.''
ON WISCONSIN