Scan the boys and girls Class 5A leaders in the shot put and discus and a theme develops: There’s a lot of heavy lifting going on in Aurora.
Senior Katie Pham leads 5A girls in both throwing events and Golditch is tops in all of Colorado in the discus coming into the backstretch of the track season and are legitimate state championship contenders, if not favorites.
They aren’t alone, as Aurora’s throwing fraternity is deep. Grandview’s Adaeze Obinnah and Hinkley’s BaJa Robinson are ranked 2-3 behind Pham in the 5A in the shot put and Cherokee Trail’s Dillon Zacharais is No. 4 in the boys shot put, furthering bolstering an area that’s been an Aurora strength for many years outside of the spotlight.
Regis Jesuit’s JT Van Veen won the 5A boys discus last season with a throw of 171 feet, 4 inches, just past Golditch’s top effort so far, and in 2009, Smoky Hill’s Mark Sparks swept both throwing events, matching the 2003 feat of Grandview’s James Begley.
On the girls side, Pham was the 5A state champion in the discus in 2010 and four of the top seven placers in the shot put at last season’s state meet were from Aurora: Pham (2nd), Obinnah (3rd), Hinkley’s Robinson (4th) and Rangeview’s Christina Fasci (7th).
With only Robinson there to really push her, Pham posted a season-best shot put throw of 42 feet, 4 inches at the 56th Robert F. Caviness Invitational on April 21, a throw that is tops in 5A and second in the state behind only the 47-4 of Pueblo South’s Megan Patterson.
“It felt easy; I’m trying to PR every weekend and just taking it one step at a time,” said Pham, who recently committed to the University of Northern Colorado. “Me and BaJa kept going at it, so she’s what pushed me.”
Besides Robinson, Pham is well aware of the presence of Obinnah — who beat her by an inch at the Aurora City Championships — as well as Rampart’s Ashley Eheardt, but she’s just trying to concentrate on improving.
“The girl from Grandview and Rampart are right behind me, so I’m sure there will be good competition when state comes around,” said Pham, who also leads 5A in the discus at 145 feet. “It’s hard to predict what will happen.”
Pham is well aware of the potential of Obinnah, a physically gifted 6-1 basketball standout who continues to make strides in the shot put.
Fresh off edging Pham at the city meet, Obinnah posted her best effort of the next week in Fort Collins, 40-5 1/4, good enough to rank her second behind Pham in 5A.
Also in the mix is Robinson, who will throw at Fort Hays (Kan.) and was the recipient of the Caviness Invitational Memorial Scholarship. She also had her best shot put attempt of the season at the Caviness meet, hitting 39-7.
Rangeview’s Kimberlie Krenrich has also qualified for state before in the discus and currently sits 18th in 5A in the discus, while Cherokee Trail’s Maddie Leatherbury is two slots higher in 16th. Grandview’s Heather Call could join Obinnah at state in the shot put as she is currently 16th in 5A.
While Pham’s progression has been steady, Golditch has made a huge jump this season. He qualified for state in the discus as a sophomore, but had a best effort of 135-10 that put him 13th — and out of the finals among 18 competitors.
Now, his 171-foot toss at the Rod Card Invitational on April 14 stands as the top throw in the state, regardless of classification. He missed the chance to add to it when he attended the University of Wyoming’s junior day for football instead of going to the Caviness Invite, but coach Justin Hoffman is looking forward to what he can do at the Liberty Bell April 28.
“Zack has a very strong work ethic and he believes that’s he’s going to win each time,” said Hoffman, who coaches Golditch in football and track. “He comes to the weight room and does his work without complain. His work ethic is probably the best we’ve had here in a long time. He’s also extremely mentally tough and loves the big stage.”
Golditch is still learning to throw the shot put properly, but has potential according to Hoffman, who cites his junior’s 6-foot-6 frame as a challenge to spinning in the circle. Golditch’s best effort in the shot put trails Cherokee Trail’s Zacharias, who is ranked 4th in 5A, by almost two feet.
Eaglecrest’s Zech Green (47-3), Rangeview’s Casey Giles (46-6) and Gateway’s Donovan Tate (46 4 1/2) are potential state shot putters, sitting 14th, 18th and 19th, respectively, while Grandview’s Taylor Schultz (152-7) is 9th in the discus, followed by Regis Jesuit’s Zach Johnson (14th at 148-8 1/2) and Grandview’s Ben Hanson (16th at 146).
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com