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West Ranch's Nick Bultman: Game of throws

Senior is the next great thrower in his family — and at his high school

Posted: April 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch senior Nick Bultman has dominated the Foothill League in the shot put and discus the past two seasons. He’s learned from his father and coach Dave, who was a CIF champion and junior Olympian.

Lineage is important to Nick Bultman.

He wants to follow in the footsteps of his father. In the process, the senior is following in the footsteps of other great throwers at West Ranch — and hoping to take steps where no West Ranch thrower ever has.

That would be the CIF State Track and Field Championships.

“That would mean everything to me,” Bultman says. “I really want to impress my dad. I want to impress myself, and doing that would be one of the highlights of my life.”

Bultman went undefeated in the Foothill League in the shot put and discus last season, ultimately winning league titles in both events and reaching the CIF-Southern Section Division I prelims.

Despite his best efforts — he set school records at the meet in the shot and the disc, both of which he’s since broken — Bultman’s season ended at prelims. But he’s come back even stronger this season, despite being smaller than typical standout throwers.

“I think he’s a very mature thrower,” says his father and West Ranch throws coach Dave Bultman. “When I watch his technique in the spin, I think it makes a difference in the way he can put it all together. It’s an advantage for throwers under 6-4, and he’s maximizing that.”

Dave would know. His standout throwing career included a CIF-Central Coast Section title and a scholarship to UCLA, and he later represented the United States on the 1988 Junior Olympic National team.

What has he taught his son?

“Practically everything,” Bultman says. “He’s the best coach you could ask for.”

Of course, Bultman has learned to maximize his own talent as well. His first foray into competitive sports came when he was just 4 years old, when he began Taekwondo. Bultman eventually worked his way up to black belt status when he was 10, and that summer, he began taking part in track and field with the Lightning Warriors Youth program.

He also took part in football and basketball when he was in junior high, but once he reached high school, he decided to focus on track and field.

“I’ve always kind of been to myself,” Bultman says. “I like competing with myself, and track offers that.”

That said, it didn’t appear that he had much to offer track.

“His freshman year, he was 5-2 and 117 pounds,” Dave recalls. “He was so small, I was thinking, ‘How is he ever going to be successful?’ But the kid’s got so much heart.”

He also had developed different skills that led to his emergence as a thrower. Taekwondo gave him speed and flexibility. Football helped him build his strength.

Bultman was successful at the frosh/soph level, finishing second in the Foothill League in the discus and third in the shot put as a sophomore.

His real coming out party, however, took place when he was a junior.

He began to employ the spin technique, which features a full rotation and requires good footwork and quickness. He also did various weightlifting exercises, including bench presses and power cleans, to build up as much power in his throws as possible.

“He’s a great non-arrogant, studious athlete,” says Wildcats head coach Dave Saville. “He’s not one of these athletes who says, ‘I won league, I know it all.’ He constantly strives to better himself.”

And he ended the year on a high note, even if he didn’t reach the Southern Section finals.

“I have never been in a meet where there are that many good throwers,” Bultman says. “It wasn’t too scary because I’m used to it, but seeing guys hit 170 (feet), 180 every throw, it really pushed me. I do well under pressure, and it showed.”

His teammate, Bree Braucher, went even further than Southern Section finals last season, missing out on the state meet in the shot put by a mere two inches.

Braucher has since graduated, but the throws program at West Ranch is starting to build momentum, and Bultman exemplifies that.
His abbreviated indoor track and field season included a trip to the California State meet in Fresno, where he finished third in the shot put with a mark of 53 feet, 5 1/2 inches and fifth in the weight throw at 52-2.

So far this outdoor season, he’s set new school records with a discus toss of 159-8 that won the Don Green Memorial Invitational on March 3, and a mark of 54-7 in the shot put against Golden Valley last week.

Bultman’s goals include throwing at least 58 feet in the shot and 170 in the disc, both of which are state-level marks. He also wants to earn a partial scholarship to college, and he says he’s talking with UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly Pomona in that regard.

“We have a motto on the team. ‘Some wish for it, we work for it,’” Dave says. “We talked about a motto that the throws group would embrace in the preseason, and that was a team decision, not a coaches’ decision.”

Bultman has worked for everything he’s gotten, including in the classroom. He carries a 4.2 GPA and is looking forward to graduation this spring.

But West Ranch’s graduation happens to be the same night as the Southern Section Masters Meet. Bultman’s looking forward to that, too.

“He’d gladly have his graduation later to have the opportunity to make it to state,” Dave says.



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