Derrick Vicars could be traveling this week to California with his University of Findlay track and field teammates, the former Genoa High School athlete looking to defend his NCAA championship in discus from a year ago.
He won't be though, as Vicars made a decision a while ago to put his collegiate career on hold for a year so that he might experience significant long-term gains.
In using a redshirt year, Vicars misses a year of competition, beginning with this outdoor season and continuing through next year's indoor season. The thought process behind Vicars' decision is that he can use the time away from competition to get stronger and to hone his technique, not having to worry about how those changes might affect his performances. By doing this now, Vicars believes he gives himself the best chance of reaching his goal of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016, if not 2012.
"I've always wanted to do it and I'm grateful that my coaches gave me the opportunity to redshirt," Vicars, a 2008 Genoa graduate, said. "It wasn't a difficult decision at all."
When, Vicars comes back from the redshirt year, he'll have two seasons of eligibility remaining in outdoor, one in indoor. He competed in March at the NCAA Division II indoor championships, where he earned All American honors in shot put (fifth) and weight throw (eighth).
Then, when the outdoor season began, Vicars stepped away. But it's not like he wasn't working. Weight training became more intense, Vicars doing the dreaded squat exercise three times a week. He competed in some events as an unattached athlete, meaning he wasn't affiliated with Findlay, but results were not emphasized. His body was often wrecked from tiresome work outs by the time competition rolled around on the weekend.
"You're just out there working on your technique and trying to get stronger," he said.
Vicars fluctuates between 250 and 255 pounds these days, a dramatic increase in body size from his high school career when he was a 195-pound running back as a senior. In fact, he had hoped to redshirt as a freshman as a way to get stronger from the get go. Alas, it wasn't to be.
Between now and June 19, Vicars is trying to qualify for the U.S. Nationals in shot put. As a freshman in 2009, Vicars finished 14th nationally in discus with a throw of 148-07. He got bigger and better over the next 12 months and posted a throw of 173-01 to win the NCAA championship as a sophomore.
"I wanted to defend my title but at the same time, I think I needed to get a little bit better," Vicars said.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com or 419-724-6160.