The Press Newspaper
Despite having won two national championships, University of Findlay track and field thrower Derrick Vicars (Genoa) has plenty of work to do.
Vicars, who won the NCAA Division II shot put championship in 2012 and the discus title in 2010, is hoping for bigger and better things this season.
This spring, Vicars set a new school record after placing first in the discus at the Sea Ray Relays in Knoxville, Tennessee. His throw 183 feet, 6 inches was good enough for an NCAA automatic qualifying bid and earned him the Tony Wilson Memorial Award as the men's field athlete of the meet. Just a week earlier, Vicars had a throw of 182-6 in the discus and a heave of 62-5¾ in the shot put, a mark that also earned him a spot in the NCAA championships.
In other words, he's still dominating D-II throwing events.
“My season has gotten off to a bit of a slow start in the shot put and hammer but I've been doing well in the discus,” Vicars said. “My goals coming into this season were to defend my title and break the Division II record in the shot put. I also wanted to be an All-American in the discus and the hammer.”
Vicars, who attended the University of Cincinnati for a quarter before transferring to Findlay, is living and training with his brother, Marcus. Marcus, a 2009 Genoa graduate, recently transferred from Kent State University to compete as a thrower with the Oiler’s track team. In fact, Marcus finished sixth at the D-II National Indoor Championships last month, a feat that earned him All-American honors.
“It helps a lot,” Derrick said. “We help each other out throwing and in the weight room. He is highly motivated like me and it is nice to be around other people who want to succeed as much as I do.”
While competing for Genoa in '08, the Vicars brothers helped pace the Comets to a 10th place finish in state prep D-II meet. Derrick was third in the discus and shot put and Marcus was fourth in the shot put. Derrick also finished third in the shot put as a junior while attending Delta High School and Marcus was fourth in the shot put a year later.
Both of them were trained by their aunt, Mary Reighard, who was a three-time state champion in the discus and a two-time champion in the shot put.
Derrick and Marcus, who came to Genoa '07 with their father, former Genoa football coach Mike Vicars, helped to turn around the Comet gridiron program and build it into one of the state's best. Under Coach Vicars, Genoa went 56-7 in five seasons, including 8-5 in the postseason, and advanced to the D-IV state semifinal in 2008. Derrick and Marcus, who earned All-Ohio status in football, also played basketball.
However, the Vicars brothers also helped to establish a string of great throwers on the track and field team. Since Derrick and Marcus left Genoa, Brad Syzpka, who is currently on the track and field squad at the University of Kentucky, won the state title in the shot put in '11 and Logan Bryan, a senior, finished second in the discus last spring.
Even if Derrick accomplishes nothing else in his athletic career, he'll always have his two national titles on which to rest his laurels.
“Winning the Division II national title in the shot put was a goal of mine since the day I stepped foot on Findlay's campus, so to accomplish that goal was amazing,” Derrick said. “I put in four hard years of work and to see it pay off like that was extremely exciting.”
After finishing 20th in the shot put in the Olympic Trials, Derrick has left the door open for a possible run at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. But that's far down the road. Right now, Vicars has his sights set on finishing out his career with Findlay.
“The Olympics is the highest level that any track and field athlete can get to and I would love to compete in them someday,” he said. “Right now, I'm not at that level yet. I was lucky enough to qualify for the Olympic Trials last year and that was a great experience for me.”
Raised by Liberty Center natives Mike and Cecilia, the Vicars boys also have an older brother, Ryan, 26, who now works as a chemotherapy nurse at Toledo Hospital. Ryan, a 2005 graduate of Delta High, led the Panthers to the D-IV state semifinal on the gridiron in '03 while serving as the team's quarterback.
“My parents have always been my biggest supporters,” Derrick said, “and encouraged me in whatever I've done since the beginning. My dad was always willing to help me in any sport, whether that was rebounding for basketball, pitching in baseball or staying with me at a Sunday throwing session when I kept saying, 'One more throw.'”
Added Mike, “Their mother and I tried to always instill within them to always just do their best. Don't worry about everyone else, just 'Be your best.' Each one of them had their own way (when it came to) 'competitiveness.' My wife rarely let them slack on school work or other things in their lives. They were always taught to always try their best, I think, for the most part they always tried to do that.”