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Adrian College's choir boy is learning his idea for what is possible is a bit off key.
Derek Stoll, a Monroe High School graduate and now a thrower for the Adrian track program, set modest personal goals before this year - and he's soared past them in a season in which he said he "can't ask for anything more."
Defeating what was not long ago an unrealistic idea, he was named the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference most valuable field performer last week based largely on his individual league title in the shot put.
A music major and a member of Adrian's choir, Stoll finished fourth in the hammer throw and fifth in discus. The improvement over his sophomore year was substantial, when Stoll said he simply was trying to transition from his prep career in which he qualified for the Michigan state meet but did not earn placement.
"The shot put was a big surprise for me this year because I was caught in a little bit of a slump," he said. "I had a couple of decent meets during the season, but toward the end I came on really strong and stayed there consistently. I feel good about the things I've done this season compared to what I thought I'd do. I guess I can't ask for anything more."
Behind his individual title, the Bulldogs finished third in the conference standings based on results from the MIAA Jamboree on April 17 and the MIAA Field Day on May 6 and 7. His winning shot put toss traveled 15.17 meters, which converts in feet to 49.77. Stoll's best throw in high school - using a shot put four pounds lighter than what he has now - was 51 feet, 1 1/2 inches.
"I knew he was going to come on strong for us this year," Adrian coach James Larson said. "I think last year was more of a developmental year - getting used to the higher weights and the new event with hammer - but I had full confidence he was going to pull it together. He's a hard worker and when you put in that work, it's going to pay off dividends in the end."
On May 14, at a "last chance meet" at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., Stoll tried to qualify in shot for the NCAA Division III nationals held later this month in Cleveland.
His toss of 155-9 in discus beat the provisional qualifying mark but did not crack the cut-off point - top 17 - for earning a bid. But not qualifying for nationals does not cast shadows on what should be deemed a productive season.
"Honestly, it's really not that important to me because coming into this season I didn't even know I was going to be close," he said. "I'm actually quite happy with what I've done. … I can come back even stronger for next season."
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