Marmion junior Luke Juriga located his comfort zone earlier than usual at last week's Class 3A Bartlett Sectional at Elgin.
With Cadets throws coach Eddie DeGeeter officiating the shot put, Juriga had one more familiar face in his periphery once he went to throw.
When a stray put hit DeGeeter in the head early in the competition, Juriga, a Batavia resident by way of St. Charles, scrambled to find his center after DeGeeter was taken to Presence Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin.
Much like his coach, who is expected to make a full recovery, Juriga rallied to win the shot put and advance to Friday's 3A state preliminaries in Charleston, throwing a personal-best 51 feet, 6 inches on his final put.
"It was kind of weird not having coach there and kind of crazy, but once I started throwing, I just tried to forget about it," Juriga said.
Juriga was competing in discus at the other side of Elgin's Memorial Field when DeGeeter was injured.
A Haines Middle School alumnus whose family now lives in Batavia, Juriga admitted it will take some adjusting to prepare for a meet in which he throws in only one event.
"It's kind of different because you're just throwing one," Juriga said. "This year I was probably better at the shot put because I was usually so mad after throwing discus."