Although brute strength may seem like the most important attribute for the throwing events in track and field, Derrick Vicars knows there's so much more to the specialized sport.
Vicars, a former three-sport standout at Genoa High School, now competes in the discus, shot put, and hammer throw for the University of Findlay.
Vicars, who has shattered a number of records at the school, said the sport is complex. He said the hammer involves turning on the heels, while the discus and shot put require spinning on the toes.
"I'd say it's at least 60 percent mental and 40 percent physical," Vicars said. "People think you just throw it. But there is a lot more to it. You can have all the talent in the world and do really well during practice. But then when you get to a meet you may not throw as well. It is a lot more mental than people think.
"At some meets if you get really nervous, you slow down your technique and it affects you."
That hasn't happen very often to Vicars this spring or during a stellar career at Findlay.
On April 21, he broke his own school record in the shot put with a heave of 61-8 1/4 in a meet at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
The throw automatically qualified Vicars for a spot in the NCAA Division II national championships at the end of May in Pueblo, Colo.
Vicars also placed second in the discus with a NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 171-01.
The previous day at Miami, Vicars crushed the Findlay school record in the hammer throw with an NCAA automatic qualifying, first-place toss of 216-08.
The throw was the second best in the nation and was an Olympic B standard qualifying toss.
Vicars will make a third trip to the national championships. As a freshman in 2009, he placed 14th in the discus with a throw of 148-07. Then as a sophomore he won the NCAA national title with a throw of 173-01.
Vicars has been named an All-American six times and holds the Findlay school records in the discus, shot put, and hammer.
Vicars said it's tough to choose which accomplishment he is most proud of. But he said leading Findlay to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division II national indoor championships this winter was a big highlight.
"I scored 14 of our 32 points" he said.
Vicars said his immediate goal is to qualify for the Olympic trials and his ultimate dream is to compete for the United States in the Olympic Games.
Beyond that Vicars, who is to graduate in December with a degree in education, hopes to coach at the collegiate level.
Vicars, who was a first-team All-Ohio running back at Genoa, said he has never regretted focusing on the specialized sport.
"I look forward to going to practice," he said. "A lot of people don't like to go to practice. But I hate taking a day off."
Vicars said he enjoys the individual aspects of throwing.
"You're able to make yourself good. That's why I like it so much. I put in the work and I see the results. In a sport like football, you can excel and be the best on the team and the team can still go 0-10."
At 250 pounds, Vicars said he is still smaller than most of his competitors.
"I've always been a smaller guy compared to others. If I'm not training, someone else is out there getting better," he said. "It's hard work to gain a lot of weight and get stronger."
Vicars said this spring he has improved his hammer throw by 30 feet. He also said he has progressed in the discus and has been steady in the shot.
"This is my fourth year throwing the hammer and I'm finally figuring it out. They don't throw it in high school, so it takes a little bit to get used to it. It's so much different from the shot and discus."
Vicars said that when he was in high school, he lifted weights only in the summer months because he played football, basketball, and competed in track.
"Now all I do is throw year round."
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade