Standing 6 feet tall and weighing 230 pounds, Whiteland Community High School senior Ryder Emberton isn’t going to sneak up on anyone.
This includes his shot put competitors during the upcoming track and field season.
A year ago, Emberton solidified his reputation as one of the state’s elite by winning the event at the state meet with a best put of 62 feet, ½ inch. He also secured a third-place medal in the discus with a toss of 174-3.
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Now comes the challenge of attempting to improve upon the accomplishments of 2016.
Emberton, who over the past few months dedicated himself to a combination of strength training, improved diet and an increase in aerobic conditioning, is prepared for the challenge.
Twenty-two pounds lighter than he was during the Warriors’ football season, when he garnered All-State recognition, Emberton prefers being chased over being the chaser.
“Coach (Brandon Bangel) always says it’s hard to become a state champion, but it’s even harder to defend it,” Emberton said. “I would say shot put is still my better event, but after what happened last year I think I have an opportunity to win both.
“My confidence is way up there now because of what I’ve been through. If I make (the state meet), it would be my third time being there.”
As a sophomore in 2015, Emberton finished 11th in the state in the discus with a best throw of 154-1. He failed to get out of the Columbus North Sectional in the shot put that year, however, scratching on each of his three attempts.
The significant leap Emberton made in both events in one season is one he would love to duplicate.
Smiling, he said, “I’m just trying to throw as far as I can so no one can get me.”
At this time last year, Emberton’s maximum bench press was 370 pounds and his squat 580. He now tops out with a 385 bench and 605 squat.
Bangel, who coaches both the girls and boys track teams at Whiteland, witnesses Emberton’s determination every day during practice. The senior is on a mission to become the first double state champion in the shot put and discus since Carmel’s Langston Newton in 2012.
“Ryder’s focus and work ethic this year have been substantially better than they were last year,” Bangel said. “He did a good job last year, but he was still kind of figuring it all out.
“He knows that if he wants to repeat, it’s not an easy thing to do. In the weight room, he’s really gone to another level. At practice, he’s just very, very focused every day. We’re pretty excited to see what that means.”
Emberton has verbally committed to attend Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, a city with a population of about 25,000 located 96 miles northwest of Des Moines.
Whiteland’s first meet takes place March 20, when the Warriors host Perry Meridian in a dual event.
ONE MEMORABLE SPRING
How Ryder Emberton fared during the 2016 postseason:
Whiteland Sectional: First in discus (173-0); first in shot put (58-7)
Franklin Regional: Third in discus (162-4); first in shot put (59-2)
State meet: Third in discus (174-3); first in shot put (62-1/2)