FARGO-- When Riley Dolezal was a junior in high school, his football coach told him since he played quarterback and baseball, why not try out for javelin? Seventeen years later, the Stanley, North Dakota still holds the state record for longest javelin throw, set in 2004. That record may still stand today, but Dolezal isn’t done with the sport that has given him so much.
“It’s prime, you’re traveling, you’re going non stop sometimes,” said Dolezal.
Summer break is a time to relax as teachers. That’s not the case though for Cheney Middle School Physical Education teacher, Riley Dolezal.
“A lot of them (students) follow. I try to keep it somewhat low key, but also announce it a little bit because I don’t want to get too big of a head. It’s fun to have them excited and stuff like that too as far as with me throwing,” said Dolezal.
Dolezal’s summer break though was bigger than any lesson plan. He was focused on qualifying for the Olympic games in Tokyo in javelin. Last month, Dolezal threw 252-feet, 10 inches in the U.S. Trials. He placed in the top three, which was a high enough finish to send him to the summer games. That throw though wasn’t considered good enough to meet Olympic standards.
“I think that was the toughest thing, being in the top three, going up on the podium again and being like yes I’m top three but I didn’t make it,” said Dolezal.
So Riley had to wait ten excruciating days to see if his world ranking would get him to his first Olympic games.
“Definitely tough, it’s the sitting and waiting game with everything then too. It’s like am I in? Am I not? Is there anything I can do more? Just trying to ask all the questions to all the high up USATF people. There’s not really any meets you can get into where you don’t have to travel to Europe or something like that and try and do that,” he said.
The top 32 throwers based on that world ranking would go to Tokyo, Riley was ranked 33rd.
“I should’ve been there, missed it again in 2016. So it’s just like two Olympics in a row that are just kind of so close and just missed out. It’s tough, I mean being 35 is maxing out your athletic ability, like age level, but I also started very late. I don’t know what my window is. I feel good, there's no pain, there’s no injuries, but the training gets harder, you have to put in more time, watching with that part of it to get to be a bit extra,” said Dolezal.
Just like Dolezal, tells his students, there’s no room for giving up. So instead he is getting back to work, with hopes of being ranked top in the country once again.
“Right now obviously the fire is still kind of burning like hey I want to prove it that I can make it again and be top in the world and I’m not 33rd, I want to be higher than that. Every time that I have made a world team, I have always placed higher than when I went in,” said Dolezal.
Next year’s World Championship for Track and Field will be held in Eugene, Oregon. Dolezal says right now is a waiting game on if he will be ready to compete again.
“Having worlds in Eugene, I think will be fun if I am able to train and get going again. That’s what’s really pulling me. Right now it’s waiting and seeing how the body feels but definitely just stretch out and see where everything goes for next year.”
The Olympics begin Friday, July 23.