Throwers Set to Cap Hoosier Careers at NCAA Championships
June 2, 2006
"Both Ryan and Wil are students of the sport," Director of Track and Field Randy Heisler said. "They have a mature, intelligent approach to their events, and they have surpassed even their own expectations in development."
Heisler, a 1988 Olympian in the shot put and discus, considered both Fleming and Ketchum "diamond in the rough" prospects during their respective recruitment to IU.
"Wil is a great story. His dad, Tom, played on the (1968) Rose Bowl team here and was a high school state champion in the shot put in Ft. Wayne," Heisler said. "Wil's brother, Zach, was a Big Ten champion in the shot here in 1997. My first conversation with Wil came at one of Zach's meets. Wil had aspirations to play baseball, and I told him `With your hereditary background, you need to throw something, but not a baseball.' "
Despite the fact that Fleming is a two-time state champion in the shot at Bloomington North, many colleges discounted the 6-0, 215-pounder.
"Especially when you go from the 12-pound shot in high school to a 16-pound shot in college, schools shied away from Wil because of his size," Heisler said. "After high school, Wil decided to pursue Olympic power lifting, but he changed his mind and decided to walk-on at Indiana. He learned to throw the hammer, and the fact that he is second in school history (205-9) and ranked 12th in the nation is quite an accomplishment."
While many schools viewed Fleming as too small to compete at the major school level, size was not the issue for the 6-4, 310-pound Ketchum.
"When we recruited Ryan, we saw his size and athleticism (34-inch vertical leap, all-state football and basketball player at Trinity High School in Hutchinson, Kan,) and knew that there was a lot to work with," Heisler said. "The problem was that his high school technique did not match his potential. We converted him from being a glider (in technique) to a spinner. He picked it up in about three years when it usually takes five to eight. He was an indoor All-American a few months ago, and his best throws may be ahead of him."
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