Ted Achladis thinks big and listens to his mother. It’s been a successful combination for the Elyria Catholic sophomore, who qualified to the Division II state track meet in discus last week.
Achladis would love to break Elyria Catholic’s school record in discus, which is 160 feet, 8 inches and was set by Bruce Yeager in 1974.
He’s two inches away from that mark after unleashing a throw of 160-6 in a regular-season dual meet this spring against Bay.
He qualified to the state meet by finishing second at the Lexington regional with a toss of 157-6.
“I wish that my distances were a little more consistently higher, but I’ve been happy with things during the last part of the season,” Achladis said. “My throws have been in the high 150 range. You can’t be upset with that.”
Achladis’ throwing career started in seventh grade and he liked shot more than discus in those days.
It wasn’t until some coaxing from his mom, Julie, that he finally decided to give the latter a try in eighth grade while competing for Learwood Middle School in Avon Lake.
Julie Achladis isn’t a throws coach, but she does know track, having been Rocky River’s girls coach since 1997.
“He’s a kid that wants to work all the time,” Julie said. “He’s been lifting since he was a young boy. Ted attended Ohio State speed camps and strength camps since he was in fifth grade. All that (discipline) just carried over from when he joined track for the first time when he was in CYO back in sixth grade.
“Kids were only allowed to do one field event for CYO and Ted only wanted to do shot. I kept looking at him and I told my husband that Ted doesn’t have a shot put body. At that point, Ted was a lot smaller. I really thought he’d be good at discus, but he didn’t buy into it. I finally convinced him to try it one time and he threw it 70 feet from a standing position. That sparked his interest.”
When he was younger, Ted worked with the assistant coaches on his mom’s coaching staff at Rocky River. He also attended throwing camps at Kent State, Ashland and Spire Institute.
He improved from 139 feet in eighth grade with the smaller discus used at that level to 152-9 with the high school discus (3.5 pounds, 1.6 kilograms) his freshman year at EC.
“Initially, we were panicked when he switched over from middle school to the high school,” Julie said. “His hands weren’t that big yet. The first time he threw the high school discus Ted only threw about 85 feet. I told him not to worry. We went over to Bay High and he threw all winter long outside because it was such a mild winter. By the time the season began he was already throwing 120.”
Ted has also gained some help thanks to a growth spurt. He’s gone from 5-foot-6, 140 pounds to 5-10, 225.
His parents have backed off on the number of camps Ted attends, but that hasn’t mattered too much. With help from EC coach Paul Cunningham, Ted tweaked his spin technique which helped him improve his consistency.
“I wasn’t getting the drive I needed coming out the back of the circle,” said Ted, who throws left-handed. “We got these discus training implements. They’re like shortened versions of a throwing hammer but with a 1½-foot chain. They work on keeping your arm back. It’s helped because my distances have started to go back up.
“The training hammer, along with a training bucket that we use inside the throwing ring, has really helped to make a difference with technique improvement and rotation.”
Ted was a regional qualifier last year, finishing 11th at Lexington with a throw of 129-8. He isn’t going to allow the aura and spectacle of the state meet to psych him out as the No. 9 seed in the 16-man field.
“From my mom’s standpoint, athletes that qualify to state for the first time many times are a little psyched out,” Ted said. “It’s the biggest meet of the year and many will use this meet as an experience. I don’t feel that’s necessarily what I would need to do or be. I feel like that I can come in, be calm and not be too stressed out or worried.”