Waterloo High School track coach Larry Huffman said this week that coaching a state champion who turns out to be an NCAA Division I athlete happens once in a lifetime -- if you're lucky.
Huffman has now been lucky twice in the past few weeks.
Waterloo senior and defending Class 2A state high jump champion Justin Kretchmer has signed a national letter of intent to attend and compete at the University of Kentucky beginning in the 2012-13 season.
Kretchmer's signing with the Wildcats comes just a short time after Bulldogs teammate Brendan Duncan signed his letter of intent to compete at Stanford University.
Duncan is the 2011 Class 2A state champion in the discus and a three-time state track meet placewinner.
"To have two athletes sign D-1 scholarship offers doesn't happen very often. It's definitely a blessing,'' Huffman said. "Both Brendan and Justin have worked really hard both in the classroom and outside. They really deserve everything they've gotten so far.''
Duncan becomes the third metro-east area athlete in the past four years to sign track and field scholarship offers with Stanford, which is located in Palo Alto, Calif. O'Fallon graduate Elaine Patten is a senior with the Cardinal and competing in the high jump.
Duncan will join current freshman Garrett Sweatt of Edwardsville as a member of the Stanford men's track and field program. Sweatt is a distance runner.
Duncan said he also considered Illinois and Michigan.
"I'm really excited about having the opportunity to attend Stanford,'' Duncan said. "I visited a few other schools but Stanford was the one that stuck out the most and that I liked the most. Thankfully I was able to get offered by them.''
The academic part of Stanford was also a main selling point for Duncan who is ranked in the top 10 in his class academically and scored a 33 on the ACT exam.
Duncan will major in engineering at Stanford.
"I took my official visit in February after I had seen both Michigan and Illinois. I got a chance to see the campus, watch some of the other sports and meet the coaches. After I got there, I knew this was the place I wanted to be.''
In addition to his 2011 state title in the discus, Duncan placed fourth a year ago in the event and placed eighth in the shot put.
Duncan had a throw of over 190 feet in the discus last season and has been around 180 feet consistently during the preseason. Duncan also set a new personal best of 59 feet, 6 inches in the shot put earlier this month at an indoor meet at the University of Illinois.
One of his goals this spring is to surpass the 200 foot mark in the discus.
Huffman said he feels Duncan will do well at the college level.
"I expect Brendan will do well at college. For every freshman thrower there is an adjustment because the weights are different than in high school,'' Huffman said. "It may take three or four meets, but Brendan will adjust just fine.''
Huffman also has high hopes for Kretchmer at Kentucky.
A member of the Waterloo basketball team, which recently completed its season, Kretchmer jumped for the first time on Tuesday in a meet with Columbia and Freeburg. The state champion a year ago when he went 6 feet 8 inches at O'Brien Stadium in Charleston, Kretchmer easily cleared 6 feet, 6 inches on a cold windy day in Waterloo and barely missed on three attempts at 6-10.
"Coach saw that I didn't have any trouble with 6-6 and that I might as well go after 6-10,'' Kretchmer said. "I had good attempts."
Kretchmer, who placed fourth in the state meet as a sophomore with a jump of 6 feet, 5 inches, will join one of the top men's track and field programs in the Southeastern Conference next year at UK, which is located in Lexington.
"It basically came down to Iowa State and Kentucky,'' the 6-foot-6 Kretchmer said. "When I went down for my visit, they took me to a basketball game and we did other stuff as well.
"The big selling point was the coaching. The coaches at Kentucky are first-rate. It's really going to be cool to be part of the Kentucky program.''
Kretchmer plans on majoring in nursing at Kentucky.
"Actually when I went down there, the jumps coach wanted me to be a decathlete because I have the body frame for it,'' Kretchmer said. "But he said it's all up to me because if I don't like it then I won't be good at it.
Kretchmer said the goals for this season are to defend his state title and crack the magic 7-foot mark.
"We thought that would be a good goal. To be able to come out here today (Tuesday) and have a shot at 6-10 on a cold, windy day is a good start.
"When the weather gets warmer, there will be other chances.''