Daily Egyptian

Sauer back from injury and breaking records

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

Two years after a surgeon set a personal record while operating on Bradley Sauer, the senior thrower is setting records of his own.

A torn labrum in his left shoulder was followed by a third left knee surgery to repair his meniscus, which led to Sauer missing the 2013-14 season.

“I had seven anchors put in my shoulder,” he said. “The surgeon said it was a personal record for him.”

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The four scars left by the surgery became a second piece of artwork on his left arm, joining a Celtic knot tattoo that represents his family’s Irish background.

Sauer tore the labrum when lifting 550-pounds during a three-board bench press. Before the surgery he benched 450 pounds with a personal record of 21.17 meters in the weight throw.

Although he doesn’t bench as much since the surgery, 405 pounds, Sauer has set personal records in weight throw and shot put at 22.06 and 16.46 meters, respectively, this season.

The senior has also won the weight throw in five of the six invitationals he’s entered after finishing with one win and placing in the top three in all seven of his indoor entries last season.

Throws coach J.C. Lambert said Sauer’s attitude has changed since being injured, and now he has the mindset needed to be an All-American.

“He got his head back on right and got his butt up and started training hard,” Lambert said. “He set goals and he was determined he was going to complete those goals his senior year.”

Lambert and Sauer set goals of beating Wichita State athletes, breaking Lambert’s indoor SIU record, winning conference and finishing as an All-American.

Winning conference and becoming All-American will have to wait — the MVC Indoor Championships begin Feb. 27 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, followed by the NCAA Indoor Championships two weeks later — but Sauer has bested the Shockers so far and is in pursuit of Lambert’s record.

Sauer is currently seventh in the nation for weight throw, the closest Wichita thrower — junior Taylor Goldsmith — is No. 29.

As for chasing Lambert, Sauer is one-foot, 11.75 inches behind his mentor. Lambert said he is rooting for Sauer to break the record.

“Coming from one southern Illinois athlete to another … I’m proud of him,” he said.

Both are local boys — Lambert attended Harrisburg High School while Sauer attended Murphysboro High School, an hour west.

The all-time SIU record isn’t the only time Lambert bested Sauer. The coach beat his protege in a high school wrestling meet as well.

“He pinned me in 13 seconds,” Sauer said while laughing.

He was a freshman, Lambert was a senior.

Sauer competed in track and field, football and wrestling as a Red Devil. He admittedly wasn’t a great thrower in high school, so he planned a trip to the United States Military Academy for football after attending a throwing camp hosted by SIU.

Former throws coach John Smith called Sauer before his trip to West Point and said SIU was offering the thrower a half-academic scholarship and that athletics wanted to pick up the other half.

His mind was made after that.

“I signed the scholarship … I never expected to come here,” he said. “SIU was the No. 1 throwing school in the nation multiple years in a row … it was a great surprise.”

Sauer is now part of a duo that leads the MVC in weight throw and shot put. His counterpart, senior thrower Josh Freeman, arrived at SIU a year later.

Freeman’s conference lead in shot put — 19.67 meters, which is seventh in the nation — is more than five feet ahead of the next competitor and 10 feet ahead of Sauer at No. 8 in the conference. Sauer leads weight throw by more than three feet and Freeman, at No. 6, is 12 feet behind.

The pair helps each other in both events and it’s often the little things that help the most.

“He sees things that I don’t feel [in the shot] and can give me little pointers,” Sauer said. “Just having two nationally ranked athletes trading off like that is really, really good.”

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3333

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