Saturday at breakfast in the Lubbock hotel Luke Mankowski is on his phone studying a YouTube instructional video of an Olympic discus thrower.
It’s not surprising. He soaks up all he can to improve.
The Granbury High School junior took everything he learned, went out and hurled past the competition at regionals to earn a spot in the Class 5A state discus throw.
“He always wants to be better,” his discus coach Terry Cellars said. His “attention to detail” is what makes him so competitive.
It’s been years … perhaps 1996 … since Granbury has sent a boy to the state track meet. GHS track records are hazy.
Mankowski had a close call at practice this season when “he misjudged his teammate’s accuracy,” Cellars related. Mankowski quickly covered his head, and the discus hit him harmlessly on the arm. He jokingly claims the mishap made him a better thrower because he shined at the area meet a few days later.
Mankowski threw the discus in the seventh grade and didn’t start throwing again until last year, but the season was cut short because of COVID-19. He picked it back up this year and has improved with every meet.
He starting throwing 117 feet, improved to 133 at district, 143 at area and then 154 at regionals. GHS track coach Jody Brown has never had a kid who’s shown that kind of rapid improvement.
“He has worked his tail off,” Brown said. “He will come up on weekends and throw by himself.”
Mankowski was in the mix going into regionals. “If he got a hold of a good throw we knew he had a chance to win,” Brown said. On his fifth try he threw 154 feet, 1 inch to best the field of 16 by 4 feet.
Mankowski’s more that just an outstanding discus hurler. He’s also an award-winning Pirate powerlifter, and tuba player in the GHS band. “You talk about a super kid,” said Brown. “He’s very strong academically, he’s well-mannered. He’s (the) best kid you’ve ever been around.”
The discus competition starts at 3 p.m. Friday, May 7, at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Mankowski is seeded sixth out of the eight competitors. The leader has thrown more than 170 feet, and the next competitor sits at 165. At the regional meet, Mankowski threw one more than 160 feet that landed just barely out of bounds.
“If he throws like I know he can throw he has a shot at placing for sure,” Cellars said.
Added Brown, “He gets six attempts. It just takes one throw.”