For almost as long as he can remember, Caden Showalter has been deeply connected to the sport of track and field. As an elementary school student, the Mancos High School senior tossed a miniature shot put in his front yard, and last season, Showalter captured two state titles.
Now, after signing a National Letter of Intent in front of a large crowd on Nov. 13, the shot put and discus star is set to compete at the college level next season when he suits up for University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS).
“I was born in Colorado Springs and I wanted to stay in state,” said Showalter, who had scholarship offers from several other schools. “(UCCS) has a really good coach and I love their educational programs. I felt really comfortable when I was there, and I think it will be a great place to be.”
While UCCS was not always on Showalter’s college radar, the Division II program that competes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference became especially appealing after Keith Vance, who previously coached at Boise State University and the United States Air Force Academy, was hired as the team’s throws coach prior to this season.
“Coach Vance is really great,” Showalter said. “He has been watching me since I was a freshman and he really knows how I throw. With him really believing in me, (UCCS) really stood out to me.”
When Showalter arrives at UCCS next fall, he will do so as one of the most decorated multisport athletes in Mancos High School history, having won multiple individual track titles and having been named to all-conference and all-state basketball teams.
Competing at the Colorado State Track and Field Championships last spring, Showalter took top honors in the 2A Classification in the discus and the shot put with throws of 161 feet and 47 feet, 4½ inches, respectively.
The senior has also made a name for himself on the basketball court since arriving at Mancos High by averaging 15.8 points and 13.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore and 15.8 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game as a junior in route to all-conference and all-state honors.
Due to his prowess on the hardwood, the possibility of suiting up for a college basketball team remained on Showalter’s radar until last summer, when he competed in several indoor track meets and finished first in the shot put (50 feet, ¾ inches) and second in the discus (163 feet, 8 inches) in the boys’ 17-18 age division at the Colorado USATF Junior Olympic Championships in Aurora.
“This last year, I went to several indoor meets, including the Great Southwest meet in Albuquerque and that was really the deal-breaker that showed me that (track) is what I really want to do,” Showalter said. “I really want to compete with college teams, and ever since winning the state championships, I really fell in love with the sport of track.”
With his name inked to a scholarship offer and the college recruiting process now behind him, Showalter plans to focus on closing out his high school basketball career in style and defending his state championships this spring.
The Mancos senior also plans to spend time with members of his immediate family who he described as being extremely influential in his success.
“Just growing up, me and my family have really stuck close together,” Showalter said. “My dad was a thrower, and ever since elementary school, I have been associated with track in some way. My family has always pushed me to do whatever I want and they have been so supportive.”
Asked what advice he would give to aspiring college athletes in his community as he glanced at the large crowd of elementary school students, teachers and friends who had come to watch him sign his National Letter of Intent, Showalter offered the following words:
“I would say just follow your passion,” he said. “You’re only young once, and if you want to be great at something, find something that you love and stick with it.”