De Pere’s Hermsen wins national discus title
By Rich Palzewic
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Steven Hermsen, a 2018 De Pere graduate, said he can thank the numerous injuries he received while playing high school football for helping him win the 2021 NCAA Division III Discus National Championship May 27 in Greensboro, N.C.
“I was always a football guy in high school who did track to stay in shape,” said Hermsen, who attends Carroll University in Waukesha. “I had visions of playing college football, but I blew out my knee as a junior and had a couple of concussions. I didn’t want to risk any further damage in college, so I found a new love in track and field.”
Hermsen, a sophomore, recorded the highest mark of the event with a 54.22-meter (177.9 feet) throw on his final attempt.
Steven, the son of Susan DeFilippi and Scott Hermsen, had already secured the victory after an earlier throw of 52.08 meters (170.9 feet).
He was the only thrower to record three marks past 50 meters (164 feet).
Hermsen, who entered his first-ever NCAA appearance, became the second men’s discus champion in Carroll men’s track and field history.
“It’s amazing – a feeling I’ve never had before,” Hermsen said. “I love my coaches and teammates and everyone who helped me get here. My parents were able to come from Wisconsin to support me – they’ve been there since Day 1. It’s been a long time coming to win and compete at the national stage.”
Hermsen’s best performance in high school came at the 2018 WIAA Division 1 state meet in the shot put when he placed 12th.
“I had to come out of a tough regional with the Kimberly (High School) boys,” Hermsen said. “My best (discus) throw while at De Pere was 158 feet.”
Hermsen said he likes the heavier weight of the discus in college compared to high school.
“It’s .4 kilograms, or almost a pound, heavier,” he said. “I wasn’t the greatest athlete in high school, but going into college, I dedicated myself to training and bought into what my coaches were preaching. I give lots of credit to my coach at Carroll, Pete Delzer. He made a program that was unique for me. He’s the mastermind behind it all – the athleticism and technique.”
Hermsen’s personal best is 187 feet, and he threw 155 feet as a college freshman.
“During the summer, I work pouring concrete and doing landscaping,” Hermsen said. “I dedicated myself in the weight room, not taking any time off during the COVID-19 pandemic. It helped my self-confidence and my athleticism. I was nervous as a freshman competing against bigger guys. This season, I had lots of self-belief. It helped me get to the place I am. I’d learn from bad meets and celebrate good meets.”
Hermsen, who’s studying exercise science/physical therapy, said there’s no added pressure going into next season.
“As far as I’m concerned, the pressure is off me,” he said. “This was my first national appearance, and I was the No. 1 seed coming in and won.”
When asked how far he could eventually throw, Hermsen didn’t give a specific distance.
“With my coaches by my side, the sky is the limit,” he said. “I’m currently No. 13 on the all-time Division III discus list. My first goal is to crack the top 10 and build from there. I don’t have a distance in mind.”