Sam Van Peursem used to play basketball, but he soon lost interest and bounced that sport out of the way.
Enter the shot put and discus, and the Cedar Park Christian athlete was in heaven. He began throwing in eighth grade when his dad, who chucked the shot and discus in high school and college, nudged his son toward track and field.
“(I) fell in love with shot put and discus,” Van Peursem said with a smile.
This season, the 17-year-old junior has strong-armed his way to the top of the 1A standings with marks of 171-8 feet in the discus and 57-2 feet in the shot put at press time. On the entire state slate, he’s second in the shot and fifth in the discus.
Van Peursem hit both personal bests this season and did so big-time, leaving last year’s 48 in the shot and 152 in the discus in the dust.
“I just worked really hard in the offseason, hitting the gym really hard and working on my technique and just trying to get bigger, stronger, faster for this season,” he said. “It’s kind of surreal, ‘cause to be where I am today, and made such great progress, it’s really awesome to see.”
Cedar Park throws coach Grant Benzel said Van Peursem is a master of setting goals and accomplishing them.
“His work ethic and his ability to be confident in everything that he does. His work ethic in school, his work ethic with his relationship with Christ and obviously his work ethic in track” have propelled him to success, Benzel said.
Added Cedar Park coach Garron Smith: “His ability to focus is amazing for a teenager, most teenagers get distracted. He can focus really really well and go after what he wants and what’s important to him. He does a great job focusing on his faith and his athletics.”
Van Peursem said that relaxing, thinking about his work in practice and clearing his head come into play before letting the shot and discus loose.
While he likes unleashing both objects in the air, he favors the discuss, “just ‘cause it’s really cool to see it go so far,” he said with a laugh. “Usually it’s just a little jolt of adrenaline and if I think it’s really good, I’ll usually let out a grunt or a yell ‘cause I’m happy with it.”
The Reporter asked Van Peursem a series of questions for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life.
Reporter: What’s your favorite restaurant in the area?
VP: Oooh, that’s hard. King’s Teriyaki in Woodinville is really good.
Reporter: What’s something unique about yourself that somebody might not know?
VP: My favorite thing is progressing in whatever I’m doing.
Reporter: Who’s your idol?
VP: Ryan Crouser. I watch him a lot for shot-put technique and I really look up to him.
Reporter: What’s your favorite kind of music?
Reporter: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
VP: All the “Indiana Jones.”
Reporter: What’s your favorite subject at school?
Reporter: What’s your dream vacation spot?
VP: I’d like to go back to Hawaii. I went there when I was really young, but I don’t really remember any of it.
Reporter: What’s your favorite hobby?
VP: Lifting weights.