Dillon Radunz practicing at the 2021 Senior Bowl (Photo from USA Today Network by Vasha Hunt)
Former Becker High School thrower, basketball player, and football standout Dillon Radunz had a successful high school track and field career. He went to the MSHSL state meet twice in the shot put and won a couple of section titles. This week he will add another accomplishment when he is drafted in the NFL Draft as an offensive lineman out of North Dakota State University.
We at Milesplit Minnesota caught up with Radunzs' high school throws coach, Josh Ihrke, to talk about his high school track and field career, his experience coaching Radunz, and his future NFL career.
How did Dillon first get involved with the track and field program?
Dillon first started in track and field in 7th grade. He would participate in summer strength and conditioning in the summer and enjoyed the ability to push himself to improve as an athlete. He enjoyed seeing the results through the course of a program focused on improving as an athlete.
When he first came into the track program, did you see immense potential in him as a thrower?
Absolutely. He had the frame that you would want to see in a young thrower. His work ethic was good and he was just one of the most coachable kids I have had.
Dillon is arguably the best thrower at Becker since the early 2000s, how does he relate to some of the other throwers that you have coached?
When he was young, he was very similar to most of the other throwers. He really developed in his sophomore to junior year. He committed to working hard in the weight room throughout the whole year. When the strength came along with the flexibility and explosiveness that he had, his success started in track and field. During his junior and senior year, it was fun to see him take the coaching I was giving him to correct and improve technique and see him flourish. When things did not go his way he was always receptive to the critique and learned from it.
Something unexpected that you see on his MileSplit profile is that he has a lifetime PR of 2:16.80 in the 800m dash. How did it come to be that Dillon ran the 800m?
That was a product of Dillon wanting to see how he could do in that race. It was one of the last meets of the year and we encourage all of the athletes to try an event that they have not participated in throughout the season. He picked the 800 and I looked at him and said, "Are you sure about this? 800 is a long way." He responded, "It can't be that bad, you make me run this in warm-ups every day. Plus I want to challenge myself."
Check out Dillon Radunz State Meet Results
2016 MSHSL State Meet | 2015 MSHSL State Meet
Dillon got to compete at the state track and field meet a couple of times, what was that experience like for the both of you?
His junior came unexpectedly. He was ranked 5th coming into the section meet, but he had progressed each and every meet in the month prior to the section meet. He made the finals and in his first throw he went after it and set a personal best of 52'11". That was a mark better by 4 feet from prelims. Every other competitor just realized that they were competing for 2nd place after that throw. He finally saw the work that he put in to come through in competition. At state, he was just excited to be there. He threw just as well and enjoyed placing 5th. His senior year he knew what he was capable of. If you know Dillon he needs to set a goal and go after it. That was to set the school record and place high at state. He set the school record at the section meet. At state, he was warming up and unleashed on his final warm-up throw a 59' throw. Again the potential was great. He ended up throwing his personal best of 57'7".
What is your favorite memory of coaching with Dillon?
There were a lot of fun memories. One that sticks out was the night after his junior year at state track. We had gone out to eat and went to a Twins game. It was 10:30pm and I looked at him and asked him where he was going. He said to get a lift in. I said you just threw at state earlier that morning. He replied that he needed to get the lift in as he had gone two days without lifting and he could not go any longer. That moment just defined who he is as an athlete.
You also coached him in basketball, what was he like as a basketball player?
Dillon was a player that was willing to do anything to help the team out. He found roles on the team and accepted them. As a lefty he was tough to guard with his size and athleticism. He loved the elbow jumper.
How was Dillon as a teammate on the basketball and track teams?
Dillon was a great teammate. He was someone that was so coachable and willing to do whatever it took to improve. He brought the level of all others up and pushed them to be better then they thought they could get to. He was not always the most vocal but lead by example and encouragement.
Dillon is expected to be a high-round draft pick in the NFL draft this week out of NDSU, how will it feel for you to see one of your athletes accomplish something like that?
I am just proud of him and again having him see the potential that all people have seen in him. His work and drive have propelled him here. I relate this to the junior year season when he set his PR by 4 feet. He has always had the potential and now he has seen and is living the fruits of the work he has put into himself and his teammates. I am glad that I was able to be part of his story and help him along the way.
Becker is a small town in Minnesota, what will it be like for your town and school to see Dillon drafted this week?
I just see the people proud of what he is accomplishing. When you get to know Dillon he invests in the right things. I just know the people in the community and the school are just proud to see him do it the right way.