LONGMONT — For Skyline’s Richard “Chico” Feltenberger, this season isn’t about repeating at 4A shot put state champion. It’s about demanding the respect he feels he deserves.
Feltenberger was a relative unknown before he put together an impressive junior season and won the state title. People in Colorado track and field didn’t know he would be as good as he was last year, and he feels he’s heard enough doubting as to whether he’s improving as a consistent thrower or just a big, strong kid.
“Nobody can take that championship away from me. I won it,” Feltenberger said. “I want to prove to myself and everyone else that said, ‘Maybe it was a fluke,’ that I’m a consistent 53-plus thrower. You can bring whatever competition you want and I’m gonna give them the best out of myself. There’s no way I’m going to lose a state championship to anyone else.”
It’s understandable that some people would question Feltenberger. He surprised even himself when he won state his junior year.
Feltenberger, who also throws the discus, said he wasn’t very good at shot put in middle school. His freshman season was ended by a knee surgery and he didn’t come out for track his sophomore year because he was focusing on football.
As a junior, he decided to get back into track and burst onto the scene by winning a state championship with a 52-foot, 9.5-inch throw.
“It wasn’t really even in my sight when I started,” Feltenberger said. “I just wanted to be a 50-ish distance thrower, not really aiming to win a state championship. I threw 50 my first meet, broke the school record.”
Feltenberger ended up shattering the previous school record, set in 1991, by more than four feet. He kept improving throughout his junior season and broke his own record, throwing 54-1 at the Horizon Hawk Invitational. The throw qualified him first at the 4A state meet and he went on to win state by 2 feet, 8 inches.
“It was a little unreal at first,” Feltenberger said. “When I was coming here, I knew I wanted to break that record because it’s stood for 20 years.”
As a 6-foot-4, 315-pound senior, Feltenberger has targeted the meet record wherever he competes this season to keep himself focused at meets where he isn’t challenged.
Feltenberger set the meet record at the RE-1J Invitational at Everly-Montgomery Field, where he also holds the stadium record. He’s set new records at two of three meets he’s competed at this year, including the Windsor Invitational.
“I just say, ‘Hey, Coach (Lonnie) Jones, you tell me the meet record and I’m gonna go for it,'” Feltenberger said. “That’s just what I like to do. I fell in love with throwing and this time of year I’m real competitive. I like to step it up.”
Jones said Feltenberger has become a leader on the Falcons boys team, which has a good shot to place high at state if everyone stays healthy.
“I’ve really enjoyed Chico this year. He comes in and hangs out in my office a little bit and we talk about track and other things,” Jones said. “He’s a good leader for our team and a good leader for our school. He’s really going at it this year.”
Feltenberger is used to change. Growing up in a military family, Feltenberger was born in Panama and moved to America when he was 1 year old. After that, he moved around a lot until finally landing in Colorado.
He also once considered himself a football-first athlete but winning the shot put state title changed all that. He’s now a two-scholarship athlete and will play both football and track at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas.
If Feltenberger wins state again this year, he will be the first Skyline track athlete in recent history to win multiple state titles in an individual event.
Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi