A burst of energy detonated in Cocalico's throwing circle Thursday afternoon, sending the shot put through the early spring air before it plunked down onto the gravel sector and rolled into the wood barrier with a loud knock during a dual meet in Denver.

Brock Gingrich, the Cocalico junior responsible for the burst of energy, stepped to the side before retrieving his shot put, inspecting the mark his throw had made — 53 feet, 7.75 inches away — as he absorbed a smattering of applause from teammates, spectators and the visiting throwers from Elco.

"Finally," Gingrich said through a smile.

Gingrich, a football coach's son and an all-state lineman, emerged as one of the state's top shot put throwers during the indoor season. A bout with mononucleosis inhibited the start to his spring season, but at full strength, Gingrich hopes to throw farther as the Lancaster-Lebanon League's arms race heats up.

"Over the winter," he said, "I did a lot of reps, had a lot of good indoor meets, and I think it all transferred over into the spring. I'm really happy about that."

Growth in the throws

A converted baseball player, Gingrich picked up a shot put in seventh grade.

"I just like throwing stuff far," he said. "It caught my attention, and I knew that shot put was going to be my event."

As a sophomore, Gingrich finished sixth at the Lancaster-Lebanon League championships, throwing 47-2, and qualified for the District Three meet, where he finished 11th in Class 3A.

"He wasn't sure of what he thought he was last year," Scott Krall, Cocalico's throws coach, said of Gingrich. "But he finished the year strong, and he's done some strength training, and that's really helped him."

Krall worked with his Cocalico throwers throughout the winter, helping Gingrich — a Class 5A football all-state selection as an offensive lineman — refine his technique and sharpen his mentality in the throwing circle.

"Obviously, his size helps," said Krall, "but he is really good on his feet. He can move really well for a guy that size. In addition to that, I think he's really studied the event and really learned a lot more about what the shot put's all about."

Returning to form

Gingrich saw the results as soon as he stepped into the circle during the indoor season. He uncorked a throw of 52-1 at the Franklin & Marshall Invitational in December.

"The first meet," he said, "I was really surprised with my distance. But I knew that that was just a beginning mark, and I need to keep improving."

Throwing beyond 50 feet with consistency, Gingrich's season peaked with a mark of 54-9.25 in a second-place finish at the PTFCA's indoor carnival in February.

Mono hit before the state indoor championships.

"It was very frustrating," Gingrich said. "I knew when I started power throwing there, I didn't have the same oomph that I had all indoor season."

The illness carried into the first two weeks of the outdoor season. After hearing Krall's calls for repetition and throwing into a tarp in a gym over the winter, Gingrich couldn't throw with the same burst of energy he had developed.

But while Gingrich recovered, he maintained his light-hearted personality around his teammates.

"Brock is just a big goofball," said Josh Hoover, a senior captain for the Eagles who trained with Gingrich under Krall in the offseason. "He's always the first guy to make a joke, but he's also one of the first guys to get serious when he needs to be."

Hoover finished fifth in last year's District Three Class 3A discus. He hit a mark of 151-9 in the Eagles' Section Two meet at Ephrata Monday. Through three dual meets, the Eagles throwers — anchored by Gingrich and Hoover and boosted by newcomer Noah Palm in the javelin— earned 63 of 71 available points.

"Winning is fun," Krall said, "and throwing far is fun. They know that there's a time to work and a time to have fun. I like that balance."

Embracing competition

While Gingrich found his form, the arms across the Lancaster-Lebanon League also heated up. Warwick's Nick Coomer and Lampeter-Strasburg's Gabe Frederick also authored 50-foot throws in the season's early stages. Hempfield's Jaden Lopez, Octorara's Matthew Joe, Northern Lebanon's Dylan Lambrecht and Cedar Crest's T.J. Moore have also flirted with the 50-foot mark.

"I look at the results," Gingrich said, "but I'm just trying to improve myself more than I'm looking at other people."

L-L League Track and Field Honor Roll: Boys | Girls

While Gingrich continues to make a name for himself in the throws, his surname has been synonymous with Cocalico athletics for decades. Dave Gingrich, Brock's father, is the longtime head coach of the Cocalico football program and an assistant with Cocalico track and field for 24 years. He coaches the jumps and pole vault while Brock bursts with energy in the throwing circles.