It is one thing to earn a spot in the Olympic trials, but it is quite another to share that experience with a good friend.
Erich Sullins and Duke Kicinski’s dreams of becoming Olympic athletes started years ago. Both of them now headed to the Olympic Trials.
“We’re just a couple of dudes from Texas throwing things. It’s fun,” Sullins laughed.
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Sullins and Kicinski, North Texas track and field standouts are hoping for a chance to compete with the hundreds of athletes who will represent Team USA in Tokyo this summer.
“The road started when I was in like sixth of seventh grade. Everyone who does track dreams of the Olympic trials,” Kicinski said.
Their friendship started more than 10 years ago. Kicinski graduated from Justin Northwest High School as a track and field and football standout. The Texas Tech alum is currently ranked one of the best discus throwers in the country. Sullins was an athlete at Lamar High School in Arlington and went on to break a school record for hammer throw at the University of Arkansas.
While they battled it out in high school on the football field and in track, they remained friends. Keeping in touch once they graduated and through college. Now, both qualifying for the trials in their respective events.
Both said they are going to treat this like just another track meet, to keep their focus.
“I’ve been taking it day by day and year by year and here we are seven years later and I’m going to Olympic trials. You can look at it as these are the top 24 throwers in the country and compare yourself to other people. But really, the only battle is the one going on up here. It’s you versus yourself,” Sullins said.
Kicinski knew he had qualified for the trials well before Sullins got in so when he found out his friend from high school would be competing too, he was excited.
“I was so happy for him when I heard! He’s got one of the coolest stories in track and field because he’s only been throwing the hammer for a few years,” Kicinski said of Sullins.
The two now experiencing a once in a lifetime opportunity together.
“You want to do those things, really cool things and all these big meets. To do it with friends, it means so much more,” Kicinski said.
U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials will air on NBC’s family of networks June 18-27.