Yes, Levi Rockey is the reigning state Class A boys track and field champion in the shot put and discus. Yes, Rockey is the top qualifier in both events this season. And yes, he expects his school, Century, to be part of the championship fray at this week's state track meet.
However, he doesn't feel any extra pressure to perform heroic feats, a la Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill.
"Mostly my mind is just on performing (individually)," he said as he looked ahead to the state meet on the Bismarck State College campus. "I know if I perform the way the coaches want me to perform and the way I want to perform I'll benefit the team in the long run."
Rockey helped Century to its second straight state championship as a sophomore in 2016, placing fifth in the discus.
Last spring the Patriots scored 109 points, 34 off the winning pace of Legacy.
As a senior, Rockey is hoping he's saved the best for last. The omens augur well. He's the state leader in the shot put with a toss of 57 feet, 11 1/2 inches, which he accomplished at last week's West Region meet in Bismarck. In the discus he threw 176-4, two feet, two inches short of his season's best, but good enough to win the regional title.
Rockey likes the trajectory of his season. He's placed first in his two specialties in every meet the Patriots have entered this season. In fact, he's been beaten just once in the last two seasons. Teammate edged him in the discus at a meet last spring.
"I do like where I am, yes," he said. "... It's how I feel in practice. I'm more controlled over everything and more fluid in my reps than I was when track season first started.
"PRs would be nice, I have some numbers I want to be at by the end of the year."
Rockey's marks have put him well out in front of the pack among state meet qualifiers. His throw of 57-11 1/2 last week in the shot gives him an edge of more than a yard over the 54-4 of No. 2 qualifier Devin Beck of Legacy. Rockey has a 178-6 to his credit in the discus. Beck is second with a 161-0.
"It feels like I'm peaking," Rockey said as he reviewed his throws in the discus. "I'm consistently in the 170s, which is what I wanted this year."
Rockey's athletic future is tied into track and field. He'll attend North Dakota State University where he expects to compete in the shot put, discus, hammer throw and weight throw.
He played on two state championship teams at Century and earned first-team all-state honors in football last fall as a 6-foot, 215-pound linebacker. He'll play in two all-star football games in the summer before leaving the sport behind.
"I love that sport. I love the contact and everything," he said. "But looking at college I just had to choose. I was looking at the future and thinking how my body would be after four years of college football."
He said input from his father, Robert Rockey, was valuable as he sorted out the collegiate athletic possibilities. Robert, is a former St. Mary's lineman whose knees were battered in football.
"My dad played a lot of football and I listened to him a lot," Rockey said.
Capital City clash, Chapter 2
Century finished on top after battling it out with two intracity rivals at last week's state track meet. The Patriots totaled 189.5 points to 155 for Bismarck and 152 for reigning state champion Legacy.
Justin Miller, who shares CHS coaching duties with Tim Jacobsen, anticipates another three-cornered brawl again this week at the state meet.
Miller said he left the regional meet thinking "the state meet is going to be a tight race, just like the WDA was."
"It's just going to depend on who shows up and gets done what they can," he said.
Century has a manpower edge with 29 total qualifiers and five No. 1 qualifiers -- Levi Rockey in the shot put and discus, senior Evan Sayler in the 3,200 and the 800 and 1,600 relay teams.
Bismarck has 27 athletes qualified, including three No. 1 qualifiers -- senior Dane Allen in the triple jump, senior David Kpadeh in the 110 hurdles and the 400 relay team.
Legacy's 25 qualifiers include No. 1-ranked Calob Larson, a freshman, in the 400 and senior Beau Brannan in the 800.
Miller said none of the contenders is depending on a blue-chipper who can shoulder a 30-point load.
"Bismarck has jumpers, speed on the track and points in the throws. Legacy will score on the track, in the jumps and the throws," Miller observed. "We're going to be all over. We'll have points spread out throughout the events."
"We've had steady points in the shot, discus, sprints and relays, and we hope some kids can sneak in in the jumps and javelin," Miller added.
Miller said the West Region meet was encouraging in that several CHS athletes had strong showings.
"Across the board we had kids who were starting to hit their peak," he said.