HAMILTON — The coronavirus pandemic has caused much uncertainty for area athletes, but Hamilton’s Zach Tolsma has rolled with the punches.
The Hawkeyes senior would have been attempting to make state in discus and high jump — and maybe shot put — around this time, but will never get his final season like all high school seniors this year.
"It stunk because I was going for a school record this year, so I really wanted to beat that in discus, so I’m sad I didn’t get to do that," Tolsma said. "It has given me a lot more time to work, so that’s not the worst thing, but I’m still sad I missed out on that."
Tolsma was anticipating his best season yet. Last year, he qualified for state in the discus with a long distance of 146. He was already way ahead of that number in the early practices before the season cancellation.
"For discus, it would have been a lot better because I was hitting 150 at the start of the season before we even got into it much, so I was already above my PR," Tolsma said. "I didn’t get to high jump at all, so I don’t know how much that would have gone up."
Tolsma wanted to break the school record of 163 and even believed he could hit 170 if given the chance. He was aiming for a top-three finish at state.
"My throwing coach was really disappointed because he wanted to see me do well and beat the school record," Tolsma said. "We had been working at that for the past three years."
Tolsma was confident he could make it to state in the high jump this season after success in the event last year. He had a personal record of 6-1 and wanted to beat that number.
"Last year, at the first meet against Holland, I was doing high jump — that’s when I set my PR," Tolsma said. "Everyone was there cheering me on. I beat a jumper I shouldn’t have beat, so I did really good that meet. That was my best jump I’ve done, ever."
His senior season might have been the determining factor for Tolsma’s college decision. Had he done well this season and gotten more scholarship money, he might have done track and field at the college level, but has now committed to working after high school.
"I was very on the edge about college because I don’t really need it, but I want a business degree for my future company, but I can do night classes for that so it wasn’t really a big deal. Now I can start my apprenticeship early.
"In a way it’s bad, but in a way, it’s also good and actually helps me."
Tolsma works for his father’s company, Bob Tolsma Plumbing, during the day, and runs his own business on the side — Specialty Spray Foam LLC.
He plans to take over his dad’s business one day.
"I saw you can make a lot of money in it," Tolsma said. "The work isn’t bad to do, so I’m planning on taking over the company and possibly expanding it. For spray foaming, we just built an addition on our barn and it was cheaper to buy the spray foam equipment and do it ourselves, and do a couple other jobs for our friends.
"Since we have the equipment, I just started my own business and decided to start doing that to make some spare money."
He credited his dad for helping him set up his own company.
"It wasn’t very difficult because my dad had a lot of experience before with it," Tolsma said. "He actually did most of it through his connections through bankers and lawyers, so he helped me out a lot with it."
And he credits Hamilton with preparing him for the rest of life.
"I learned to work hard everyday and as a team, we bonded together," Tolsma said. "Everyone was close."
— Contact Assistant Sports Editor Beau Troutman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BVTroutman.