For Glenbard East's Jake Hurlburt, throwing discus is mainly between the ears.
The senior started his push to reach the state track and field meet Tuesday in Lombard, the Rams' outdoor debut. If nothing else he established a base.
Hurlburt's top distance of 135 feet, 3 inches, well off his personal-record 147-10 at last year's DuPage Valley Conference meet, placed second to Wheaton North's Connor Grace at 140-6.
"Today is definitely not a reflection of how I've done before, so I definitely expect more of myself going into the season," Hurlburt said.
He isolated a glitch in his technique, fixable through repetition. In addition to team practices, Hurlburt trains with his father, Tom, a Glenbard East graduate and All-America hammer thrower at Lewis University.
"He'll bring his own disc out here and throw on the weekend," said Rams coach Jack Brady. "He does everything the right way."
As long as he gets out of his own way.
"A lot of it is a mind game, just not letting yourself get psyched out," Hurlburt said. "At the sectional meet I threw qualifying (distance) in the warmups but then didn't come anywhere close during the actual competition, so I definitely let it get to me and that's something I've had a problem with. It's stuff to work on, practice over the meets."
That's what Wheaton North's Alex Ryan was doing. The senior had already run four 800-meter intervals then in the actual race blasted off and never let up. Unchallenged, his two-minute time wasn't far off last year's season-best 1:58.85.
"You've got to learn how to run fast times alone just like you have to learn how to run with other people. That's a good thing about Tuesday meets," Ryan said.
Another is the chance for newcomers like Glenbard East's Karon Keys to set the program freshman long jump record at 20-8½; or Rams juniors Vince Booth and Jack Peters to both run a 3,200 and a 400.
West Chicago sophomore John Kulikowski won triple jump and is among a core including Hunter Cerny, James Coats and James Kubik that, like Hurlburt, does things the right way.
"In the 10 seasons that I've coached for West Chicago," Wildcats assistant Mike Mittman said, "it's by far probably the hardest-working group that we've had."