From Throwing on Park Sidewalks to the NCAA
September, 2022 - Issue #213

"Distance" is a recurring theme for Terraine "TJ" Wiggins Jr. The CIF Division II discus champion, known for hurling over great distances, has already come a long way.
Wiggins and sister Elissa grew up in Greene, New York, and were in middle school when mom Emily Case transitioned the family to California. Case is no stranger to athletics - she was a basketball star at Marymount University and is a New York State Section 4 Hall of Famer.
Still, TJ never knew much about discus before high school. Like his mom, Wiggins always loved basketball and played since he was able to walk - but the summer before his freshman year, he fractured his hip at basketball summer camp.
He wasn't down for long. Golden Valley track and field head coach Lonnie Davis approached Wiggins about trying throws.
It was former discus school-record-holder Kienan Donovan, though, who was the first to think TJ would make a great thrower. He was right; Wiggins threw about 84 feet freshman year.
"He had some great guys to look up to, like Kienan," said Davis. "But a lot of it he really did on his own. That commitment turned into leadership."
"Looking at my watch, I knew we would finish well after dark. But there was only one thing to do - keep putting ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER and get down the mountain."
Wiggins' sophomore year would be erased due to the worldwide shutdown of sports in the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Wiggins' training never ceased. The future Golden Valley star thrower was constantly at Fair Oaks Park, throwing from the sidewalks. Eventually, Golden Valley coaches got his throws up to around 160 feet.
Early on in his senior year, Long Beach Grizzlies coach Steve Low would help get the ball rolling for the soon-to-be Foothill League discus record holder. Wiggins, now a Long Beach commit, wanted to find a program he considered "a sleeping giant," the type of team that's focused on improving athletes who want to make a name for themselves.
"I knew if I went there, I would succeed," said Wiggins. "I'm expecting nothing but success when I get there."
He's putting in the work to make that a reality. Coach Nick Garcia welcomed Wiggins in with open arms and the next morning he told Wiggins he'd be throwing 180 to 190 feet.
Garcia worked with Wiggins privately throughout the season and coached him from 160 feet to his personal record of 198 feet, 11 inches.
Wiggins was a key part of the Golden Valley track and field dynasty. The Long Beach commit dominated the Foothill League in both discus and shot put and eventually became the CIF Division II discus champion.
"He was a huge part of the dynasty and the legacy here at Golden Valley," said Davis. "He's in the record books. He put in the time and commitment."
"I did like that I put my name on the map," said Wiggins. "I just wanted to make a name for myself. I felt a little overshadowed by some of my teammates. I wanted to be known for being me, not for being this person's teammate."
A lot of the big names came before Wiggins that paved the way for the CIF champ; when he knew he was up next, he was ready.
Wiggins is grateful for having Davis as his head coach and recalls having a bad throwing day in practice. Davis came over and started dancing, perking his senior right back up.
Wiggins is already training just about every day for Long Beach. The Golden Valley star can be found most days at his alma mater throwing the collegiate-level disc, which is just under a pound heavier than the high school disc.
It's a big adjustment but the incoming college freshman is averaging throws of about 160 feet. Wiggins said it's been hard to see his marks go down nearly 40 feet but he's already nearing numbers in the top 20 of the NCAA championships.
"I definitely believe, discus-wise, he will be one of the top national athletes," said Davis.
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