Pitman High's Markus Sanders is built like a boulder. His 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame was a big reason why he dominated as a running back during the football season, highlighted by the fact that he earned the Central California Conference's best offensive player award.
He plans to attend Modesto Junior College in the fall to continue his sport, in hopes of transferring to a Division I program.
So it's no huge surprise the kind of success he's having this spring. He's one of the best discus throwers in the state, and he has a chance to prove just that during this week's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet at Hughes Stadium at Sacramento City College.
He's come a long way since his freshman season, the first time he picked up a discus.
“Discus came a little easier for me,” Sanders said.
Pitman track coach Thad Moren first suggested Sanders try both the shot put and discus. He didn't like the former event that much. By the time his sophomore season rolled around, he was beginning to really like the discus, which was evident as he won the league championship in the event at the junior varsity level — the first of three such titles, with two of them being at the varsity level.
“When he started as a freshman,” Moren said, “it was my first year back coaching the throws again after coaching the other events. It was kind of a relearning process for myself, along the way with the kids. At that point, he was starting off with around 100 feet.
“At the end of the year, he was throwing 130 feet.”
The distance is much more now.
Sanders' personal best is 181 feet, a mark he set at an invitational at Hughes Stadium on May 1.
He needs to reach 169-01 to qualify for the CIF State Championships on June 4-5 at Buchanan High in Clovis, which has been his goal all season after missing it by a few feet in 2009.
“The goal is to go to state,” he said.
He's been improving all season, with part of his success coming from his football background, where he learned to build his strength. Another factor is having his throws recorded on a high-speed camera that can slow down the footage to see what part of his technique can be improved.
Sanders and Moren hope this season's work will all lead to a spot in the state meet.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.