Caught up in preparations for Bayfield High School’s spring musical performance of “Bright Star,” Josh Kaufmann’s 2020 track and field season – still blooming back in early March – was already disappearing a little too fast for his liking, with him attending preseason workouts only in spirit.
“The first week or two, didn’t get to practice with anyone at all,” he said. “But what I’d heard was that we had pretty good potential, even the up-and-coming kids.”
Kaufmann had promise in the throwing events as one of the prime Wolverines to watch this spring.
“I was going to throw (shot), but we weren’t going to make it my priority,” he said, addressing the question of possibly replacing graduated state champion David Hawkins. “We were just going to do it more to get first in league. I wasn’t really doing it to focus on placing at state; discus has always been my main event, my best event.”
Out of the top-10 placers at last May’s CHSAA Class 3A State Track & Field Championships, six were either sophomores or juniors, Kaufmann included. His third-place maximum of 145 feet, 6 inches (on his sixth and final throw, after successive 129-08, 136-05 and 145-01 build-up efforts) only trailed Sterling senior Jace Pittman’s winner by 13-04.
So, on paper BHS’ now-senior, beginning to attract college interest and receiving some early-bird contacts via social media, would have needed to pace himself against only Resurrection Christian junior Elias Naranjo, who fired a runner-up 152-07 best last season.
Fast forward to April 21: the Colorado High School Activities Association plays the COVID-19 situation safe and officially cancels all spring 2020 sports to eradicate all thinclads’ hopes of earning a return to Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood.
“I am bummed because it’s my senior season and I did have a good chance of getting at least top-two at state this year,” Kaufmann said. “But there’s nothing I can do; I’ve just accepted that I won’t be able to throw. It’s just a bummer; I love throwing discus, I love track and field, but now it’s not my focus.”
And with much more time on his hands entering the final month of studies and sports than he’d ever dreamed, Kaufmann admitted senioritis has been a concern somewhat on par with the rampant coronavirus.
“It’s really difficult to want to do my online (classes),” he said. “And I’ve talked to multiple seniors feeling the same way; it’s a very unfortunate time, keeping us from enjoying our last bit of senior year.
“But I’ve been passing the time.”
‘A lot of science’Kaufmann stated his post-Bayfield pursuits are already underway as he navigates nutrition and tackles training as a prospective bodybuilder initially eyeing the National Physique Committee’s 2020 NPC Salt Lake City Championships on June 13.
“I’ve been able to work out still, and I’ve been on a really strict diet – that’s all using up a lot of my time – so let’s hope it’s not canceled,” he said. “I have a friend who has a really nice home gym that I’ve been blessed with. Been able to still stay on top of (working out and on a very strict diet to get to a low body fat. I’m eating six meals a day – trying to eat every two to three hours – and tracking my calories.
“There’s a lot of science behind it. I’m very slowly burning body fat but maintaining muscle.”
‘I’m ready to go do something else”Though discouraged presently by pandemic protocols from meeting with him in person, Kaufmann’s training partner, a few months removed from a rock-solid freshman season of college football, seems just as eager to enter the new arena.
“You know, I thought about doing it last year – a competition – and then I went off to California to go play, so I wasn’t able to,” said Hawkins. “But this year the opportunity’s presented itself; I’m happy to do it.”
It’s now Hawkins’ main focus, as he has decided to step away from football.
“I chose to be done playing football,” he said. “Decided, you know, that I’m ready to go do something else.”
One of five Coloradans listed on Monterey (Calif.) Peninsula College’s 2019 roster, and hailing from by far the smallest hometown out of the group, Hawkins starred during his first season in the vast California Community College Athletic Association. Out of all its players, conferences and divisions, Hawkins finished tied for 31st in tackles per game (7.1) and tied for 21st in total stops (71).
He also had three quarterback sacks amongst 7½ tackles-for-loss, plus an interception. He had 10 solo and 11 total tackles during his debut, a 51-34 season-opening rout of Eureka-based College of the Redwoods.
And despite electing to walk a new path, Hawkins’ love for the gridiron hasn’t wavered.
“We had a team that was able to come together, which is always interesting at a (junior college) because two years, you’re in-and-out,” he said. “And we were able to put together a great team with a great staff and had a great year.”
Overall, Hawkins helped retiring skipper Mike Rasmussen’s Lobos post an outstanding 10-1 record, polished off by a Nov. 30 victory over rival Cabrillo College in the Living Breath Foundation Bowl. Played at Rabobank Stadium in Salinas, California, MPC’s 24-17 win came barely two weeks after a last-minute MPC field goal clipped the Seahawks (8-3) 45-42 in Aptos.
“It was cold,” said Hawkins, recalling the bowl game’s inclement (rain, winds reportedly steady at 25 mph but often gusting much faster) conditions. “We’d just played that team to see if we could get in to the bowl. It was freezing cold, but it was a lot of fun. Happy it turned out the way it did.”
Though it seems he’ll not be on Monterey Peninsula’s squad for incoming Rasmussen replacement Ronnie Palmer – most recently University of Northern Colorado’s defensive line coach from 2018-19, but Rasmussen’s defensive coordinator at MPC back in 2012 – Hawkins is also happy his football talents plus physical attributes (he heaved the shot a first-place 51-0 at state on his final prep-level attempt) have him ready and able to now head in a different direction.
“Ever since I started lifting for football, which was probably my seventh grade year, I was hooked on it and loved lifting,” he said. “And then as I got more and more into it, I realized I had an interest in bodybuilding itself.”
‘Difference in body type’For the aforementioned championships, to actually be held at Cottonwood High School in Murray, Utah, Kaufmann and Hawkins probably won’t be entered in the same division and/or style.
“They go more by age and height, and not necessarily weight,” said Kaufmann. “And ‘men’s physique’ versus ‘classic physique’ – that’s the difference between David and I in body type. He’s obviously got a bigger build than me.
“In men’s physique (competitors) wear board shorts, show off more their upper body and midsection. And there’s different posing, different routines. The classic physique thing’s more of a spandex-on-stage in front of judges, showing off legs and upper body – it’s like what Arnold (Schwarzenegger) used to do.”
That’s more of Hawkins’ style.
“Definitely ‘classic physique’ is what I’m interested in,” Hawkins stated. “It’s more a throwback to that era and the ways that they built their bodies – wide shoulders, small waists, and I was like, ‘Man, that’s for me.’”
Like Kaufmann, Hawkins said his training routine has been somewhat modified by mandated pandemic precautions, but both said they’re making the best of a bizarre break while looking to the near future.
“I was going to Momentum Fitness in Bayfield) at first, and then after they closed I went and cleaned out my dad’s old workout stuff that he had since probably the late 80s, early 90s,” said Hawkins. “I’m happy that he has it and that I was able to put that up in our house here and do what I can.”
“I’ve had no problem; I’ve been able to go hiking, stay outdoors,” Kaufmann said. “I’m completely motivated to stick to a diet and train because this is what I’ve been wanting to do as a career: be in the fitness industry.
“It’s a tough sport; the day of, you’re very unhealthy – low body fat – and dehydrated. You’ve got to get a spray tan, and you’ve got to show off your physique in front of judges. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”
“I’m more interested in the competitions,” said Hawkins, asked whether he, too, could also see himself moving into the industry longterm. “I think it’s fun to be able to have something to push myself to stay in shape, and I find competition enjoyable because I’m competitive as is. So, that’s kind of what I’m in it for.”