Achievement rooted in family tradition
BGMR/Freeze Track and Field senior athlete Brady Skeim stood on the podium as a sixth place finisher in the Class A Boys Discus on June 10 at the MSHSL State Track and Field Meet from St. Michael-Albertville High School. He ended his high school career with a state medal around his neck, but a week before this, Brady’s path to state was in peril— facing an obstacle.
Brady talked about this obstacle. He and his dad Shane Skeim— one of his coaches— also talked about he and the family’s track and field background, the work that has gone into Brady’s throwing career, the mindset heading into his final season, his performance at state, his career as a whole, and his future plans.
As for that obstacle, Brady went to the track facility in Ada— a day before the Section 8A meet to be held there— to practice his shot put and discus throwing. He did his practice discus throws and they went great. He then did his first shot put practice throw and tripped over the toe board and rolled his ankle badly.
“I couldn’t even really walk on it,” Brady said. “And so I go over and take my shoe off and my ankle’s swollen up to the size of like a softball.”
The rest of the night was spent getting his ankle wrapped— taping it really tight— and taking some inflammation pills. The next morning, he still couldn’t walk on that ankle very well.
He didn’t let this injury stop him from competing that day in the section meet. He didn’t perform how he usually did in the shot put, not making it state in that event.
“It was kind of a bittersweet (feeling) because… it bumped (my teammate) Treston (Nichols) up and he was able to go to state,” Brady said. “And having a sophomore go state instead of me, I was more than happy to see him go just because he’s been working really hard. He’s been improving all year, so I wasn’t too mad about that.”
He then shifted his focus to the discus throw.
“I started getting ready for that, getting myself prepared for that,” Brady said, “because if I don’t make it in discus, I’m not going to state at all and my season ended right that day.”
His season would not end there. He finished fourth in the preliminary rounds to advance to the finals. Skeim lined up for his final throw in this round— still in fourth place. On potentially the final throw of his high school career, Skeim threw one of his better throws that day—151-10— putting him in first place and advancing him to state.
Going back, Skeim has track and field in his blood, especially when it comes to the throwing events. Brady’s dad Shane and his grandpa Mitch Skeim threw in high school. Mitch went to high school in International Falls in the 1960’s, earning his way to state in the shot put as “basically” a self-taught person.
As for Brady, he began throwing in about fifth grade. His grandpa coached throwing events for Thief River Falls at that time and allowed his grandson to practice with his team. Being young at this time, Brady would work on just footwork. Brady had even mentioned how his grandpa had made a homemade wooden disk for him with lead weights around the outside of it.
Mitch— having passed away in December 2020— had coached his son Shane and a couple of his other children. Mitch’s daughter Kelly was more of a runner.
“My interest in throwing too came for my father as well,” Shane said, “so that kind of progressed to Brady.”
Down the road, Shane helped coach his son Brady, starting when he got into middle school.
“It’s always been a family thing,” Brady said. “… That’s kind of what started it is just a little bit of family competition.”
As Shane explained, many area high schools don’t have a throwing specific coach.
“Having a dad and a grandfather that was able to kind of get him started when he was young, learning it correctly was pretty huge, as well,” Shane said.
Within the BGMR/Freeze Track and Field program, Skeim mainly competed in throwing events, getting in on a few relay events when needed. As far as throwing is concerned, Brady has put in the time.
“Throwing is, you know, it’s a very technical sport,” Shane said. “And also the earlier you can start developing good technique and having somebody to be able to show you those things is pretty important, so you’re not learning things incorrectly.”
Brady’s throwing practices involved developing that technique— that footwork. In the offseason, he lifted many weights, being a three-sport athlete— one also involved in hockey and football. He also went to a throwing summer program at Gustavus Adolphus College down in St. Peter, Minn.
“Track season is kind of short, so a lot of the work that you do is in the offseason, if you want to be successful in it,” Shane said. “… Our weather isn’t necessarily conducive to being outside to throw a lot of times, especially for the discus, so (you’re) trying to figure out a place indoors to throw during the offseason when it’s cold or rainy, or wet or whatever.”
Fast forwarding back to his later high school years, Brady advanced to the state meet in both the shot put and discus throws as a junior— his first time at state. There, he fell short of the final rounds and a state medal.
“Last year… was pretty cool to get into state,” Brady said. “… I came into my junior season knowing that I was ranked pretty high. I should go to state that year. I ended up putting it all together in the postseason that year, and went (to state) for both shot and disc(us).”
The mindset shifted heading into his final season.
“Going into this year, I guess, mindset being, let’s do it again, repeat, come back again, throw even farther,” Brady said. “… Making finals at state was kind of a big goal this year for sure because that’s the top nine throwers of your class in the entire state going against each other, which is really cool.”
He made it to the final nine this year by throwing at about his season average. His best throw at state— the one that earned him that sixth place finish— came in at 151-00.
As long as he got over that 150-foot mark, he was going to pretty happy with that. Once he achieved that, he was content.
“I still tried to go farther, but, I mean, I wasn’t expecting a miracle there,” Brady said. “But I was very happy with how it ended… I went in there, I did what I could, I did what I did all year long, and then got myself a state medal.”
To see the complete story, read the June 30 issue of the North Star News in print or online.