It only took Zach Delker two seasons to make his presence felt as an elite offensive linemen on the Catonsville High varsity football team.
It took him until his senior year to become a standout thrower of the shot put and discus on the indoor and outdoor track teams.
In his final season of outdoor track he won a Class 4A state title in shot put with a personal best throw of 53-feet, 1.5 inches.
His efforts on the gridiron and in the field events with the track team helped Delker become the 2015 Catonsville Times co-Athlete of the Year along with classmate Danny Bruno.
Delker’s improvement in the field events were remarkable, considering his personal best throw in shot put in his freshman year was 33-feet, .75 inches.
As a sophomore, his top throw outdoors was 34-11, so he changed his technique.
“When I was a freshman and sophomore I was using the glide technique,” Delker said. “It’s more of a linear technique and it wasn’t really working for me.”
Using the spin technique in the Class 4A outdoor state meet during his junior year, he tossed over 10-feet further (42-4) than his best throw as a sophomore and he placed 13th.
No stranger to You Tube, which he uses to post trick basketball shots, he used videos to improve.
“All I did was watch You Tube videos of Olympic shot putters and my form was decent and I was able to get my shot put up 10-feet, but I knew I would have to get real practice with a real coach, so I got Nick Agoris to show me the real specific technique and do the training I needed to do and once I got with him everything just sky-rocketed,” Delker said.
“Zach’s story is unbelievable because a year ago he was a good thrower, but he certainly wasn’t a state champion level guy,” said personal coach Agoris, who saw the difference immediately when he went from the glide to the spin technique. “He went from okay to great in two weeks. It was the darndest think I’ve ever seen. He was just a natural spinner.”
Agoris knows of only two other shot putters who improved as much as Delker.
“He is willing to work and Zach would certainly be in the top 10 percent of kids to put in extra practice time, drilling a little more and caring a little more.” Agoris said. “A lot of times that is the difference between winning and losing.”
Delker’s strong efforts in shot put and discus, which he placed third at states with a throw of 147-11, earned him a trip to Greensboro, North Carolina for the New Balance outdoor national meet June 19-21.
In the fall he will attend Mount St. Mary’s University and become a member of the indoor and outdoor track teams.
Originally, he took up track and field to get in shape for football, but his desire to become a champion made him take the sport more seriously.
He finished first in shot put in nine of 10 meets, including wins at the Class 4A North Region meet, Baltimore County championships, Gator Invitational and Pikesville Track Classic.
In discus, he also captured gold in the regional and county meets.
Delker’s path on the football field was similar to the one he took in track.
“When I started rec football coaches put me in because I had to go in, not because I wanted to, but once high school came around I started liking it more, and once I started liking it more, I got in the weight room and bulked up and worked on my foot speed,” Delker said. “Once that happened, the coaches saw that and I guess they saw potential and I’m guessing they are glad they moved me up to varsity because I think I turned out to be a pretty good lineman and I had a lot of fun doing it as well.”
After a season of junior varsity as a freshman he earned the starting guard position as a sophomore on varsity and was entrenched there for three seasons.
He was named All-Division Second Team as a junior and was All-Division First team as a senior.
“All the years he played we were primarily a running team so for him as an offensive lineman, you know he has to have a lot of skills, which he does,” Catonsville football coach Rich Hambor said.
It was during his sophomore year in a game at Perry Hall when Delker had his most memorable play in a 28-21 victory.
“We were down by five and we had to drive 80-plus yards down the field and we got within five yards of the goal line and they (Joseth Hylton) ran right behind me to score the game-winning touchdown with like 15 seconds left.”
“We said we are running it and he was going to be the guy we were running behind, that tells you what I thought about him,” Hambor said. “It was a no-brainer for us to say run behind Zach.”
In his senior year, the Comets went 6-4 and missed the playoffs, but opposing coaches remembered him.
“This was his best year,” Hambor said. “He was as strong as he has ever been and the other coaches remembered him. If you are a guy where the other coaches can’t wait until you graduate, that says a lot.”
Although he wasn’t an outspoken vocal leader, when he had something to say Hambor knew it would be worth listening.
“He talks a lot among the offensive linemen, but I think he’s kind of a known quantity for everybody else,” Hambor said. “He doesn’t interact with the skill position guys as much, but I think he is their cornerstone. They know he’s going to be there. If Delker said something, you needed to listen.”
He won’t be tempted to play football at Mount St, Mary’s because they don’t have a team, but Hambor knows he would have had collegiate success on the gridiron.
“He absolutely could have played Division III football if he chose,” Hambor said.
“Of course I’m going to miss the game of football, but I think once I realized that track and field was my sport, it was easier to let go,” Delker said. “Going into my junior year I was kind of undecided like, ‘Do I want to do football or track?’ and then once I got with coach Agoris, I knew that track was going to be my future.”