FINDLAY - After a superb multisport career in high school, Derrick Vicars left the security of the huddle and safety in numbers football offers. In college, he chose to specialize in the solitary atmosphere of track and field.
"In football, if you were not having a good day, your teammates could always pick you up, but with track, it's only you out there," said the former Genoa High School standout and current University of Findlay athlete.
Vicars was a first-team All-Ohio selection at running back as a senior at Genoa. His father, Mike, is Genoa's football coach.
But he also excelled in the shot put and discus in track, benefiting from the coaching of Mary Reighard, a three-time state champ in the discus and a two-time champ in the shot put.
Reighard, who is Vicars' aunt, gave him a solid foundation in technique while he was at Delta, where he started his prep career.
"She helped me a lot, because I wasn't that big in high school, compared to most of the other guys throwing the shot and the discus," Vicars said.
Now focused exclusively on track, Vicars (6-1, 240 pounds) has added weight through intense training.
He set the Oilers' school record in the discus last season as a freshman and took 14th in the Division II national championship meet. In the recently completed indoor track season, Vicars broke the Findlay record in the shot put five times and was named an All-American after finishing sixth in the indoor championships.
In the outdoor season, Vicars went out in the first meet at Wake Forest and won the shot put, discus, and hammer throw, setting Findlay records in the first two events. He has since re-established the school record in the discus several times and qualified for the national championships next month in that event, where he is ranked No. 2 in the country. He also is a provisional qualifier in the shot put and the hammer throw.
"First of all, Derrick is a tremendous competitor, so that desire to get better is always motivating him," Findlay coach Marc Arce said.
"It is unusual for a young man to qualify for the national meet in all three of those events, but Derrick isn't your usual athlete. He was pretty polished with his technique when he got here, and then he has just continued to work hard."
Vicars said that when he made the decision to end his football career and focus on track and field, he hoped to see his performances progress, but he did not expect to be nationally ranked as a college sophomore.
"I've had great coaching, and that's a big factor since these other guys I'm competing against are all so strong," Vicars said. "I think my technique work has carried me, and now I hope to keep getting stronger, and see where it takes me."
Contact Matt Markey at: