Udenberg throws Cloquet to topThomas Udenberg leads the Lumberjacks in the discus and shot put. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound, bearded Cloquet junior is physically strong. More importantly, he's a very hard worker.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Cloquet High School Social Studies teacher Tim Prosen said nearly every morning before school starts, Thomas Udenberg is in his classroom to learn about his favorite subject.
Track and field.
“In all my years coaching, I’ve never had an athlete as passionate about track as Thomas is,” said Prosen, now in his eighth season with the Lumberjacks. “He puts track above everything else.”
Perhaps that’s why Udenberg is one of the area’s top field superstars. Leading the Lumberjacks in the discus and shot put, the 6-foot-3, 270-pound, bearded Cloquet junior is physically strong.
His coaches are most impressed with his willingness to work.
“If you tell Thomas to do 100 reps, he’ll do 101,” Prosen said. “And every morning, he’s in my classroom just curious about how to improve.”
Udenberg said his older sister, Amelia, got him hooked on throwing. He said he began chucking the 12-pound steel shot put ball in eighth grade and, a couple years later, starting tossing the much-lighter discus last season.
“It’s just something different,” said Udenberg about his favorite pair of events. “In throwing, there is definitely a lot of strength involved, but you have to have a good head on your shoulders, too. A lot of it is just mental.”
Udenberg said he’s constantly trying to improve his understanding of the sport. According to Prosen, coaches Kevin Brenner, Bill Hudspith and Andy Elias have helped him along a varsity career that started in middle school.
“In between classes, I’ll just swing over and get some help,” Udenberg said. “I’m always trying to look at other options so I can improve.”
As the Lumberjacks’ top thrower since the end of his freshman year, the right-handed Udenberg noted his career-best toss in the discus is 146 feet, while his record in the shot put sits at 49½ feet.
As a freshman, Udenberg was a Class AA top-10 section finalist in both events. Last year he was less than a foot away from the finals again.
That said, the burly big-man said his goal this spring is to qualify for state.
Prosen is confident in Udenberg’s chances.
“Throwers know throwers and Thomas is definitely one on the top of the list,” Prosen said. “You only get a few throws, but he’s motivated. He’s certainly one of the best throwers that I have ever seen.”
Thomas’ mother, Marlys Udenberg, said her son spends most of the calendar year working on his throws. She said he never likes to lose.
“He doesn’t like taking second, not at all,” Marlys said with a laugh. “He always wants to be in first.”
“I know he doesn’t like losing,” added Cloquet junior classmate and long distance running teammate Erik Swanson. “That’s why he’s so
On a chilly Tuesday evening at Proctor, Thomas Udenberg said he threw considerably shorter than usual, finishing as the meet’s runner-up.
“It was freezing and a bit frustrating,” Udenberg said. “But I stayed out there for a while afterward and threw some more to figure things out.”
That never-satisfied willpower has led colleges to pursue Udenberg about playing sports down the road. Also an offensive and defensive tackle in football, Udenberg said he’s still undecided on things, but would love to keep throwing.
“I’ve gotten some college letters,” Udenberg said. “And I would definitely like to pursue it past high school. In throwing, it’s you against other people. I like that.”
Prosen said his second-year captain doesn’t hesitate to help others, either.
“If our coach isn’t there that day, Thomas can run workouts for us,” he said. “He’s such a leader and the kids really look up to him.”
“Right when the snow started melting, he was out there shoveling off the platforms,” added Marlys. “It’s a lot of fun for him.”
Between his runs, Swanson said he likes to watch Udenberg throw. However, he added, his well-deserving teammate is often overlooked by many in the midst of all the other events that occur during a meet.
“Throwers deserve more credit than they get,” Swanson said. “People just think it is being strong and lifting weights, but there is a lot of form and technique that goes into it. Thomas just gets into the zone. You can really tell he cares.
“He’s a beast,” Swanson continued. “He throws the shot put 49 or 50 feet. On my best day, I could maybe throw it 10!”