Before they realized they could hurl a ball and disc farther than most, and before they were signing letters of intent to Division I schools, track-and-field throwers Mariah Walker and Nathan Dunivan were simply friends.
They were the kind of friends who brought out the best in each other - friends who failed together, picked one another up, broke barriers together (sometimes broke school property together during indoor throwing practice) and friends who would push one another, even in the face of resistance.
At Wednesday's signing day, they were again side by side, this time making their collegiate decisions official while sitting behind a long, wooden table at Sand Creek High School.
In the midst of camera flashes and overwhelmed family members, Walker signed with Colorado and Dunivan signed with Weber State in Ogden, Utah.
"It's an exciting day," Dunivan said, covered in Weber State purple. "It's great to sign by Mariah too, because I don't know if I would be here if it wasn't for her."
In fact, he may not have thrown for Sand Creek at all if he hadn't met Walker on the shot put-divot-covered field the summer before their freshman year.
Coincidentally, they'd both gone to the school's field to throw a shot put and discus (well short of where they can heave it now).
Walker, who throws a shot put 21 feet farther today (46 feet) than she did then (25), went first. She had picked up throwing a couple years prior. Dunivan, who can throw a shot put nearly 55 feet now, went next - he was practically a newbie to the sport.
At that moment, however, they both looked at their futures in the sport differently. Walker planned on going out for the schools' throwing team. Dunivan did not.
"I said, 'Come on, you're pretty good.' I mean he didn't have the technique down, but he could throw it far," Walker said. "I had to bug him for quite a while."
She understood how he felt though. She was the same way years before, when her parents took her and her older sister Montoya to throwing practice with a trainer named Gil Vasquez.
"I did not like it at first. I wanted my own thing because when I was growing up I always copied my sister. She did, like, cheerleading, so I did cheerleading," Walker said. "And then it was like, 'I am her shadow all over again.'"
Months later, her mind changed after she won her first trophy in middle school competition. Since, she won the 2013 state title in shot put with Montoya - now her coach - at her side. Now, she's only 12 inches off the Class 4A girls' shot put state record (47 feet).
The best thing, however, might be that she also helped convince her friend to join the schools' throwing team their sophomore year. Since, Dunivan, the 2013 4A shot put runner-up has just enjoyed the throw of it.
"It's been a fun ride," said Dunivan. "And yeah, it's always cool to have a friend you can work with and have fun with along the way."