By Justin Vigil-Zuniga Signal Sports Writer
“Distance” is a recurring theme for Terraine “TJ” Wiggins Jr., as the CIF Division 2 discus champion, known for hurling the disc over great distances, already has come a long way in his young life.
Wiggins and sister Elissa grew up in Greene, New York, until he entered middle school. TJ, Elissa and his mother, Emily Case, made the move to California for his sixth-grade year. Case was a basketball star at Marymount University and is a New York State Section 4 Hall of Famer.
The Long Beach commit never knew much about discus before high school. Wiggins always loved basketball and recalls playing since he was able to walk. He also played football for about five years as well.
However, the summer before his freshman year, Wiggins fractured his hip in a basketball summer camp.
Later in the year, Golden Valley track and field head coach Lonnie Davis approached Wiggins about trying throws. The two had known each other for a few years since Wiggins played football with Davis’ son. However, it was former discus school record holder Kienan Donovan who was the first to think Wiggins would make a great thrower.
Wiggins was sold and found a new home in track. He would go on to throw about 84 feet in his 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.”
Wiggins’ sophomore year would be erased due to the worldwide shutdown of sports in the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Wiggins’ training never ceased for too long by himself. The future Golden Valley star thrower was constantly at Fair Oaks Park and throwing from the sidewalks.
Even when he finally could return to the sport in his junior season, Wiggins had been training solo from summer to January.
Eventually he’d start working with the Golden Valley coaches and got his throws up to around 160 feet that year.
Before his commitment to Long Beach, Wiggins reached out to the program first but got no response. Early on in his senior year, Grizzlies coach Steve Low would help get the ball rolling for the soon-to-be Foothill League discus record holder.
Wiggins was aiming to find a program he considered “a sleeping giant,” the type of team he described as one focused on improving athletes who wish to make a name for themselves, all while not being too big of a program.
“I knew if I went there, I would succeed,” said Wiggins. “I’m expecting nothing but success when I get there.”
Wiggins was a Long Beach thrower before taking a throw in his senior year but there was no sign of taking it easy.
The senior received technical coaching virtually from throwing coach Dane Miller in Pennsylvania. He received great input but was recommended to coach Nick Garcia by some of his competitors at a meet. Garcia took Wiggins in with open arms and the next morning he told Wiggins he’d be throwing 180-190 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 2 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 to do so.”
Wiggins was aiming to make a name for himself in a program that has been normally crowded with future track and field stars.
“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.”
It was a lot of the big names who came before Wiggins that paved the way for the CIF champ and when he knew he was up next, he was ready.
Wiggins is grateful for having Davis as his head coach, saying nothing but great things about his mentor. Wiggins mentioned having a bad throwing day in practice one day. Davis came over and with no music playing, just started dancing, perking his senior right back up.
Wiggins is already training just about every day for Long Beach. The Golden Valley alumnus 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.
Wiggins isn’t slated to throw shot put in college but is eager to get back into it. The Beach freshman is also ecstatic to try hammer. California high schools don’t offer hammer throws but Wiggins is still excited to try out the sport and chase more PRs.
“I definitely believe, discus-wise, he will be one of the top national athletes,” said Davis. “That Long Beach State program, throws wise, is one of the best in the nation.”
Wiggins will be around the SCV for most of the summer before heading down to Long Beach. His roommate on campus will be teammate and former Great Oak thrower Aiden Pastorian.
Wiggins’ greatest impact could come outside of track and field. The freshman will study kinesiology with an emphasis on physical fitness all while likely making some noise on the NCAA throwing scene.