BRADENTON - As Bayshore High's Derrick Hawkins walked around his old school, Southeast, on Thursday night, he said more than one person did a double-take when they saw him walking around in his Bruins track gear.
That's right - track. The Bruins basketball standout is trying something new this year.
Though he hadn't run track since his days at SuGg Middle School, Hawkins' friends from basketball talked him into going out for the team this spring.
So when Hawkins, who transferred to Bayhore this year, showed up for practice, the coaches didn't know where to put him. When he pushed the shot put 51 feet in his first day in the circle, the decision was easy.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"I have watched Olympics on TV before, and shot putters are those really buff guys who spend all the year in the weight room, and that's not me," said Hawkins, who is 6-foot-5 and just more than 200 pounds. "I didn't think I would do that good. It's just something I took to."
Even though Hawkins had no idea what he was doing and had never even tried the shot put before, his natural athleticism was enough.
Hawkins finished second in the Seminole Warpath Invitational with a shot put distance of 44.75 feet, placing him just behind Lakewood Ranch's Brendan Choy, who had a 45-4.
Choy was part of the Lakewood Ranch boys team that won the team competition with 152 points, just ahead of second-place Palmetto.
The Mustangs' girls also won with 212 points and Palmetto once again finished second.
Individual awards went to Southeast's Henry Sailes (top male athlete) and Palmetto's Alexis Love (top female).
Hawkins' drop in distance can be attributed to his coaches trying to teach Hawkins the proper technique instead of relying on his natural gifts.
"We haven't even taught him to slide, so we're working on putting all the steps together," said Chris Cook, a former Bruin who is coaching Hawkins this spring. "He's basically an all-around athlete, and he'll listen to anything we say. If I told him to run the 2-mile, he'd do it."
The idea is that with the right training and technique, he might eventually be able to put up even better distances.
Hawkins is still playing basketball on weekends with his AAU team, the Florida Elite, but he now works out every day with the Bruins track team.
The junior said he's taking track and field just as serious as basketball.
While Hawkins is new to track, Sailes is a veteran and has been one of the county's top track athletes almost since he arrived on campus.
Now a senior, he won the 100, 200 and helped the Noles win the 400 relay on Thursday. Sailes looked like he was about to fall asleep as the meet wrapped up.
"I am tired," said Sailes. "This was on my home turf though, and that gave me a little extra momentum. All my people were pushing me and telling me to run and not give up."
Southeast coach Eddie Starling said Sailes was good last year, but he's vastly improved this season.
"Henry is complete workaholic," said Starling. "His work ethic is absolutely fabulous. I don't have to harp at him about dogging a workout and if he misses a workout one day he comes back and finishes that workout before starting that days workout. He's been fun to coach the last four years."
Lakewood Ranch's Lindsay Thompson won three events, the long jump, triple jump and 200 to finish runner-up for top female honors.