MADRID, Iowa — As a freshman, Coy Kirkpatrick would enter Madrid High School, turn his head to the left and stare at the track record board. His eyes went straight to the fifth entry.
Discus. Craig Kirkpatrick. 184 feet, 6 inches. 1992.
Every time he saw his dad’s mark he thought the same thing.
“That thing is mine,” Kirkpatrick said.
Four years later, it’s still the same. Kirkpatrick is after a lot in his senior track season: claiming the state discus title, making state in shot put and maybe even breaking the program’s shot record.
But no goal may mean more to him than the one he noticed his first day walking into high school, the 25-year-old family record.
“He doesn’t say a whole lot about it,” Craig Kirkpatrick said, “but it’s definitely on his mind and this is his last chance to do it.”
Following dad’s lead
The rivalry between father and son is friendly, back-and-forth banter at the dinner table about topping the old man and seeing if the young pup is ready to take it.
The admiration, though, runs deep. Coy Kirkpatrick grew up with stories of his dad’s athletic exploits. Craig Kirkpatrick played on Madrid’s 1991 state championship football team and threw at Iowa State. It always impressed his son.
It’s why he would listen anytime his dad coached him. Coy Kirkpatrick always appreciated that his dad was stern but fair and knew when to push him and when to leave him alone.
“He knew what it took to be great because he was,” Coy said. “He knew what it took. If you weren’t putting in the effort he would let you know. If you were he would congratulate you.”
When they weren’t joking about the record, Craig Kirkpatrick kept telling his son he could break it. Coy always possessed the ability and Craig Kirkpatrick wasn’t worried about his son’s work ethic.
“He has definitely eclipsed the effort I’ve put in by 500 times,” Craig Kirkpatrick said. “I was one of those, I probably didn’t try as hard as I should have all the time. Success in certain things came pretty easy.”
He believes his son deserves the record, but he also knows that doesn’t guarantee he’ll get it. Coy was about 5 feet short last season, when he finished runner-up in the Class 2A discus.
The son thinks a lot about it but doesn’t say much about it. He’ll admit it’s important, but quickly pivots to telling stories about why his dad is important in his life. It’s as if breaking the record is as much about saying thanks for all the help as finally being able to hold one over on his old man.
“If I didn’t have the support, didn’t have my parents I wouldn’t be here right now,” Coy said. “At the same time, I can’t let him have the satisfaction of him beating me.”
The unofficial family motto could come from an old 1990s T-shirt— second place is the first loser. At least, that’s how Coy tells it: Everyone is out to win. Still, Craig Kirkpatrick is rooting for his son to set the Madrid discus mark.
“They say records are meant to be broken,” he said. “I welcome him to chase it, and if he beats it I will be ecstatic, but he has a little work to do yet.”
The race starts on March 14. Madrid opens the season at the Iowa State indoor track meet. It will build over the next two months. Kirkpatrick isn’t just after his dad’s record. He wants to be one of the top throwers in the state. In his mind, that would mean winning the state discus title and putting together a strong showing with the shot, too.
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He’s about 3 feet from the Madrid shot put record. He’d love to take it down, too.
“Hopefully, he will finish with a bang,” Madrid track coach Steve Perkins said.
One final shot
The early practice results are positive. Perkins and Coy Kirkpatrick both like what they’re seeing. The focus for the spring is on max potential and explosiveness across the center of the ring.
“Those are two things he knows he needs to work on, and he is going to keep working on his technique and hopefully get there,” Perkins said. “That is our goal.”
Coy Kirkpatrick likes to joke that if he beats his dad’s mark they won’t need to change the name too much in the trophy case. It’s not the line he’s going to use on the day he breaks the record. He’s working on something better.
“When I get it he will not hear the end of it,” Coy said. “I will hound him and hound him and say told you so.”
The kid who doesn’t talk much about his quest now will have plenty to say then.