Local notebook: Central's Ethan Thomas breaks pair of throwing records that stood for more than 30 years

May 9—GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks shot put coach Matt Fischer knew Grand Forks Central's Ethan Thomas had a monster throw inside him this track and field season.

The early indication came on a mark that didn't count.

At a North Dakota State indoor meet, Thomas finished third in the shot put and scratched on his final throw.

"We were at NDSU and their college athletes run the meet," Fischer said. "(Thomas) ended up getting third ... not great in his mind. He was probably around 55 feet. But his last throw, he let one rip and scratched it.

"After the meet, the guys running the meet ran and got the tape and pulled it out for the mark ... 62-7. These were college kids and good in their own right. They were excited about this throw. I think that gave (Thomas) additional confidence ... like, hey, I can do this."

That unofficial performance set the stage for Thomas, who's committed to compete at UND next season, to break a pair of local throwing records that stood for more than 30 years.

At the prestigous Howard Wood Relays in Sioux Falls in early May, Thomas established new personal bests on every throw of the meet and finished at 62-0.25 — the best shot put toss in Grand Forks history.

The previous Central record was held by Aaron Christopher, who tossed 59-7 in 1993. The previous Grand Forks overall mark was held by Red River's Mark Murdock, who threw 61-9 in 1992.

"That's probably the greatest shot series that we've seen as a program," Fischer said. "He PR'ed on every single throw. To PR in the shot when you're at that level is hard to do, period. You maybe go five to 10 meets without a PR. On his last throw, there's probably 300 people watching and he pops 62 feet. It was incredible. He put on a show. That's a really crazy accomplishment."

Thomas has qualified for the state track meet in the shot put, discus and javelin. Red River's 2023 seniors Logan Arason and Quinn Nelson both accomplished this feat a year ago, which was the first time it happened at Red River since Dave Kurtz in 1998.

"There's not going to be a lot of kids continually do that," Fischer said. "We've just had some really good athletes come through the program."

Thomas is the first to qualify in all throwing disciplines since Peter Gibbs in 2006. Central sophomore Jacie Reardon also qualified for state this season in all three throwing events on the girls side.

Thomas' mark in the shot put is the fifth-longest throw in North Dakota history, less than 2 inches behind Carrington legend Jim Kleinsasser's 1995 throw of 62-2, which ranks No. 4 all-time.

Technically, a state record has to take place at the state meet. Bismarck High's Howard Hausauer holds the state record with a throw of 64-1 in 1987. It's the state's oldest boys record.

Although Fischer calls it an unbreakable state record, he put it on Thomas' radar.

"Once that bar is raised and raised, we have to keep raising it for him," Fischer said. "Why not put that carrot out there?"

Three area standouts made moves on college decisions last week.

Four Winds-Minnewaukan's Dalen Leftbear committed to United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck to play basketball. The all-Region 4 basketball pick is also a standout in football and track and field.

North Star's Parker Simon signed to play baseball at Lake Region State College. Simon was also a basketball standout this past season, where he averaged more than 14 points per game in leading the Bearcats to a state runner-up finish.

Grafton's Braylon Baldwin committed to play basketball at Minnesota State Fergus Falls. Baldwin, a 5-foot-11 guard, averaged 20.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and shot 43.9 percent from 3-point range prior to the state tournament, where the Spoilers finished runner-up to Devils Lake in the Division A state championship.

Former Grand Forks Central slugger Joey Grabanski, now at Concordia University (Neb.), was named Great Plains Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

Grabanski, the NAIA's all-time home run king, now boasts four career First Team All-GPAC honors.

Concordia won the GPAC league title and advances to the NAIA National Tournament next week.

In 52 games this season, Grabanski hit .393 with a .496 on-base percentage and .847 slugging percentage to go along with 56 runs, 11 doubles, 24 home runs and a GPAC-high 79 RBIs.

On April 13, Grabanski became the NAIA's new all-time home run leader when he left the yard for the 78th time in his career. In four incredible collegiate seasons, Grabanski has batted a school-record .381 and has totaled 224 runs, 302 hits, 51 doubles, 86 home runs and 291 RBIs.

Entering the NAIA national tournament, Grabanski needs five more RBIs to break another NAIA career record. He was named an NAIA Second Team All-American in 2023.