By Alonzo Garza
Lockhart resident Carol Finsrud says she could not wait to turn 50.
A lifelong athlete who found her passion for track and field events in high school, Finsrud has become a more powerful, stronger and better athlete as an adult – even though she was a national champion in her teens. She presently competes in Masters Track and Field weight events, and, at 50, is one of the youngest in her age bracket.
“Last year was a real big year for me,” Finsrud said. “I turned 50 and I couldn’t wait to get to it. It’s kind of unusual, in Masters Track and Field people look forward to getting older so they can compete and be the youngest in the next age group.”
Most recently, Finsrud competed in the National Masters Weight Pentathlon championships in New London, Conn., on Aug. 23. She competed in the hammer throw, shot put, discus, javelin and weight throw all in one day.
She dominated the competition, finishing first in the Weight Pentathlon with a grand total of 4,.601 points. She earned her first place finish in the hammer throw (41.48m/136’01”), shot put (11.99m/39’04”), discus (43.42m/142’05”), javelin (29.33m/96’03”) and 16-pound weight throw (14.68m/48’02”).
Finsrud, who was a competitive cross-country skier in her childhood home in Minnesota, got into track and field in high school to get better at skiing. She learned quickly that she could excel in the sport, and took to track and field events like a natural. By her junior year in high school she started competing in the discus throw and continued to improve until her graduation and beyond.
“When I graduated high school they weren’t giving out scholarships to girls so my options were limited,” she said. “I competed in an American Athlete Union (AAU) Meet the summer after high school and the girl who won discus was from Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Mont., so I decided to attend college there. A University of Texas coach knew the coach in Montana so I was recruited and came down to Texas. I was one of the first two women throwers at UT. The other lady was from Wisconsin.”
Finsrud competed at the University of Texas until her graduation in 1980, earning a personal best of sixth place in the Nationals her senior year.
After graduating from college, she quit throwing for nine years – because, she said, “…unless you were an elite athlete, there weren’t many opportunities for you after college.”
Feeling like she had not reached her potential during her college years, Finsrud contemplated throwing again. Soon, she was back in shape and throwing better than ever.
“I started to realize I didn’t feel like I had fulfilled my desired results,” Finsrud said. “I decided to start throwing again and my first meet back I threw farther than I ever did in college!”
At 30, Finsrud started competing in Open Nationals. In 1991, she earned a sixth place finish at the Open United States Track and Field Nationals (USTF) with a personal-best throw of 181’3”. Finsrud even qualified for Olympic trials on three occasions, in 1992, 1996 and 2000.
Finally, at 36, Finsrud discovered Masters Track and Field.
“I gradually transitioned from the Open to the Masters, and I’ve been competing continually ever since,” she said.
Finsrud holds American records in the discus in every age bracket she has competed in (35 – 39, 40 – 44, 45 – 49 and now, 50 – 54), and a World Record in the 50 – 54 bracket. Additionally, she has been a Discus Masters National Champion and is a seven-time World Masters Discus Champion.
Other recent accomplishments include a first place finish in the hammer throw (44.27m/145’3’), first place in the discus (43.23m/141’10”), second in shot put (12.19m/40’) and second in javelin (29.78m/97’8”) at the National Masters Championships in Spokane, Wash., on Aug. 7-10. She won in her age group with world record total points and received an inaugural Lad Pataki Award given to the outstanding athlete of the meet.
She won four gold medals for the hammer throw, discus, shot put and 16-pound weight throw and a silver in the javelin event at the National Masters Championships in Orono, Maine.
At the World Masters Championships in Riccione, Italy, last year Finsrud won four golds and one silver and set the world record in discus.
Finsrud lives and trains in Lockhart, where she and husband Mike Graham own and operate the Old Texas Barbell Co. Both world-class athletes, they share their wisdom and expertise with clients in an “old-timey” athletic setting in downtown Lockhart from 6 – 9 a.m. and 3 – 8 p.m., Monday – Thursday. They close late (at 7 p.m.) on Fridays and are open from 8 a.m. – noon on Saturdays.
See you at the gym.
provided by Kathi Bliss)