LAKEWOOD – Energized by competition and the encouraging claps of the crowd gathered around the shot put arena on Saturday, Samuel Dirkes let the 12-pound metal ball fly.
When it landed with a thud in the sand, the crowd erupted and Dirkes hopped with joy.
The Silver Creek senior saved the best throw of his high school career for last, pulling off a dramatic victory at the Class 4A state track and field championships at Jefferson County Stadium.
“I couldn’t be more happy right now,” said Dirkes, who won with a personal-best throw of 58 feet, 10.75 inches. “It’s amazing. That means a lot to leave it all in state.”
Leading for much of the competition with a throw of 56-7.5, Dirkes slipped into second place when defending champion Kain Medrano of Pueblo East passed him with a 57-7.5 in second round of finals.
Medrano’s lead held until Dirkes stepped to the ring for the final throw of the competition and stole the title.
“I knew that Kain and I were the top dogs and I knew we were going to battle it out big time,” Dirkes said. “It was unreal when he passed me. I was shaking in the ring almost. Then to get that throw out there, it means the world to me.”
Dirkes was runner-up to Medrano in the discus on Thursday. Medrano won both events in 2018.
Dirkes completes his career with five top-eight finishes at state, but Saturday’s victory was especially sweet because of the medal he didn’t win. Last year at the state meet, he came in as one of the favorites in the shot put, but fouled on all three throws and didn’t even reach the finals.
“This is a good way to repay myself from (last year),” he said.
And a good way to validate four seasons of work.
“I didn’t start track as a freshman until more than midway through the season,” he said. “It means the world to me that you keep on going, go in there constantly, and it’s eventually going to pay off big time. It really did for me. It was amazing.”
Silver Creek junior Caleb Sedegan finished seventh in the shot put after coming in seeded 15th.
Also for the Raptors, Daniel Ford placed fifth in the 200 and 400 meters, and the boys 400-meter relay team placed seventh.
On the girls side, Kaitlin James was sixth in the 100 hurdles for the Raptors.