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Meckes brothers dominate the field events
By Jeff Febus
Nate Meckes and Josh Meckes

Nate Meckes (center) and Josh Meckes (Bay City, Mich.)

A s a sophomore in 2003, Nate Meckes was named the MIAA's Most Outstanding Field Event Performer in men's track and field. The following spring, he decided to take a year off from track and field to focus on his duties as a resident assistant in the Calvin dormitories. But the same last name would grace the plaque in 2004, as younger brother Josh arrived in time to win the award as a freshman.

This past spring, however, older brother Nate returned to claim the award with a record-breaking season in the shot put and discus.

So is there "sibling rivalry" between the two? Not at all, they say.

"I'm my brother's biggest fan," said Josh of Nate, who holds Calvin and MIAA records in the shot put and discus. "When he's out there competing, I feel so much pride knowing that he's my brother."

That pride swelled at the recent NCAA III Track and Field Championships in Waverly, Iowa, where Nate took second in the discus and fourth in the shot put to earn All-American honors in both events. His second-place throw of 194-10 in the discus was the second-best throw in NCAA III track and field history and qualified him for the USTAF Nationals on June 23 in Carson, Calif.

"To watch him throw the discus like that was incredible," said Josh. "I couldn't believe he had thrown it that far. It was awesome."

According to Josh, Nate's skills as a shot put, discus and javelin thrower piqued his own interest in the throwing events. "I got interested in the throws because of Nate," said Josh. "He taught me how to throw the different implements. I don't think I would have done it without him."

Josh also has his own specialty as a long jumper. As a freshman in 2004, he took league runner-up honors in the event at the MIAA field day and then won a league championship in the long jump this past spring. He also qualified for the NCAA III Track and Field Championships in both 2004 and 2005, including a collegiate-best jump of 23-8 1 / 2 this past spring.

"I love watching Josh jump," said Nate, who was named the 2005 Great Lakes Regional Athlete of the Year in men's track and field. "He is incredibly talented. He does things I could never do."

A two-sport athlete, Josh also made his mark on the basketball court this past winter, serving as a starter on a Calvin men's basketball team, which reached the NCAA III Final Four. He is known for his blocked shots and high-flying alley-oop dunks.

"I had a lot of fun watching Josh play this winter," said Nate. "He can really get above the rim and get the crowd going."

According to both brothers, their love for sports stems from their parents, Daniel and Janelle. "I can remember getting up at 6:00 a.m. to follow my dad to basketball practice when he played for his seminary team," said Nate of his father, who is a Lutheran pastor. "Josh probably doesn't remember it, but he was about two years old tagging along with me."

While their father played basketball, their mother played volleyball. "She turned down Division I offers to play volleyball," said Josh. "She wanted to be able to play a variety of sports in college, so she went to a smaller school. I think we get our inspiration for playing from our father but our love for a variety of sports from our mother."

As high school students, Josh and Nate both participated in soccer, basketball, and track and field. Nate began his high school career at Saginaw Valley Lutheran High School and finished it at Lutheran Westland High School near Detroit, after his father had accepted a call to a church in the area. Josh began his high school career at Lutheran Westland but then finished at Saginaw Valley Lutheran High School, after his father accepted a position at a church in Bay City, Mich.

Josh and Nate also have three younger siblings - brothers Aaron, 13, and Matthias, 12, and sister Michaela, 9. "They come to a lot of our meets, and they were at most of Josh's basketball games this winter," said Nate. "Along with our parents, they do a great job of supporting us at all our athletic events."

With a double-major in physical education and psychology, Nate plans to pursue a career as a sports psychologist. "It's something I decided to do this past summer," he said. "I enjoy psychology, but I also want to stay involved in athletics."

He also may pursue a dream of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in 2008. "If I can keep throwing farther, I'll keep competing as long as I can," said Nate. "I owe a lot to the coaches at Calvin for helping me get to this point as a thrower; I'd like to see how far I could take my throwing career before I move on with my life."

Although he not yet declared a major, Josh is considering pursuing a degree in sports management. "It sounds like something I could do," said Josh. "I'd like to stay involved in sports in some fashion or another, so I'd like to give it a try and see if it interests me."