Discuses and shot put balls were flying far out of the hand of Silver Creek's Sam Dirkes during his junior year. The numbers continued to climb and got him all the way to the state meet.
Along the way, he set the school record in the shot put with a throw reaching 57 feet and came within 12 feet of the school's discus record.
Things were looking good for Dirkes to put up impressive numbers at the state meet. He did so in the discus when he threw 160-feet-6 inches and earned a third-place spot on the podium.
The shot put, however, was a different story.
"Last year didn't go so well at the state finals in the shot put," Dirkes said. "I scratched all three of my throws. This year, I'm really working on getting my technique to perfection so I don't have that happen to me again."
For the record, his school-record throw of 57 feet would have held up as the best throw in the Class 4A boys shot put event at the state meet last May.
Dirkes started using a rotation in the circle last year when throwing, coiling up and then spinning to get extra momentum behind his throws. While getting more distance, he also has more work to stay in the ring and avoid stepping on the line or out of bounds to prevent his throws from counting, like they did at state.
Getting more comfortable with the rotation method, he hopes to have his mistakes corrected and to be able to stay in the ring to score this year. The goal isn't just to get back to the state meet and place in the shot put this year. For Dirkes, his sights are on bigger things.
"My number one goal for shot put is to break the state meet record," Dirkes said.
The record in Class 4A is 60-feet-4.75 inches, set in 1997 by Mullen's Carlos Tarin.
What will it take for Dirkes to break the mark? According to him, doing exactly what he has done in practice so far.
"I know I can do it," Dirkes said. "I've hit that mark already in practice before. I'm confident in myself to progress this entire season."
Another finish on the podium in the discus is also a goal for the senior thrower this year.
To get to those high marks, Dirkes and the rest of the team are taking it step by step. A longer preseason before their first meet has been met with improvising workouts due to the snow over the fields. The throwers still manage to get in the gym and work on throws and techniques, and many are spending time in the weight room to get stronger.
There is plenty of motivation for the boys team as a whole as well with Silver Creek coming off winning the team state championship in Class 4A. But with Dirkes and Hunter Potrykus being the lone two state placers back, everyone is at work to elevate their game to get in a position to score this year.
"We have some athletes that can definitely run," Dirkes said. "It's a lot of teamwork. We do a lot of team bonding stuff constantly. It's always just putting in 100 percent work in the field. We want to have perfect practices to be perfect."
Dirkes is focused on leading the team and reaching his high goals, all while he works towards making a decision on where to continue his football and track career in college. With schools like Colorado State and the University of Northern Colorado on his radar, the future is bright for his athletic career. Before turning the page to his next chapter, there is still a bounce back performance he wants to get at Jeffco Stadium.
"I've always wanted to be number one," Dirkes said. "That would be a huge achievement for me."