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Gazette Premium Content Track and field: Nathan Dunivan, Jackson Spalding drive each other to throw farther

By Scott Kaniewski Published: May 13, 2014

Jackson Spalding knows what it's like to spend a season chasing the top thrower in the state.

Nathan Dunivan has spent this season doing just that.

Spalding, a little more than six months removed from ACL surgery, has the state's best discus throw at 179 feet, 2 inches. Dunivan is second by one inch.

In shot put, Spalding is third in the state (second in Class 4A), while Dunivan is fourth (third in 4A).

The coolest thing about those stats is that each of those personal records can partially be credited to the other thrower.

"It's been hugely beneficial because they are always pushing each other," Sand Creek coach Bobby Tillman said, also pointing out Cheyenne Mountain's Grayson Webber and Pueblo East's Keaton Brown as regulars who help push one another. "I've overheard Jackson talking, not knowing I was standing near, saying, 'Yeah, one of us is going to get a good throw; we're going to get that state record.'"

Spalding and Dunivan see each other at least every other week - or whenever the two compete. With Spalding's Discovery Canyon and Dunivan's Sand Creek both in the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference, the two see each other every time the league gets together. Throw in other competitions around the state and the two are bound by throws.

"I really love the throwing community," Spalding said. "Everyone wants everyone to do their best on any given day."

It's not a rarity for a throws coach to scour schedules in hopes of entering an athlete in some far-off meet to get some good competition. But that's not the case for either Tillman or Discovery Canyon throws coach Shawn Mitchell.

"I would say they're more than just casual competitors, they're borderline friends," Mitchell said. "They seem to know each other and they're very complimentary of each other."

Both Spalding and Dunivan have signed to compete at Division I schools next season. Spalding is headed to Air Force. Dunivan is going to Weber State. Neither could be any happier for the other. Just like watching each other post personal bests.

"I think when that happens it gets everyone else psyched, I know it does for me," Dunivan said. "It makes me want to do just as well or beat him."

Last season, Dunivan held 4A's top throw in the discus and was fourth in shot put entering the state meet. Spalding was second in the discus and fifth in the shot.

But over the course of the three-day state meet, Spalding captured gold in both events. Dunivan was second in discus and ninth in shot put. Both are gunning for gold when the shot put commences Thursday and the discus Saturday.

"Shot put I wasn't too upset about, but threw pretty well," Dunivan said. "But discus throwing is a really huge mental game. I beat myself that day and I let the nerves definitely get to me."

Dunivan swears that won't be a problem this year, not after competing on bigger stages such as Idaho's Simplot Games.

"I'm definitely going into it (state) a lot more relaxed," he said. "I know how things run this time around. I know what to expect and how to keep everything nice and calm."

Spalding would have no problem seeing Dunivan have an amazing day, as long as Spalding has a great day too.

"This year, I think it would be amazing to break state records," Spalding said. "But all in all I want to win both and perform to the very best. I want to get out there and have a good day.

"If it meant Nathan or someone else out-throws me and I have a good day, that just means they had a good day and I had my best."

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