OMAHA — There's a 60-foot shot put marker at Burke Stadium with a couple of dents in it now.
When Cameron Jurgens does his damage, he does it far from the throwing circle.
"I didn't really feel any pressure until I kept throwing it out of bounds," Jurgens said. "Then I'm like, 'Oh, man.' Throw it in bounds one time."
Oh, he did, sparing the out-of-bounds marker further abuse. And when he did, that shot put ball traveled far — 60 feet, 4½ inches — though not as far as he'd hoped. The Beatrice sophomore who looks nothing like most high school sophomores you've known and has been committed to the Nebraska football program since age 15, had opponents yelling "Come on, Cam!" as he prepared for that final winning throw Friday morning.
What he wanted, and what they wanted, was for him to top the state-meet record of 63-7, set by Lucas Pinkelman of Cozad in 2007. (The all-class state record, the white whale for Jurgens to try to harpoon the next two years, is 66-11½, recorded by Schuyler's Marty Kobza in 1981.)
"I've got next year to do it, and senior year, so I'm sure I'll get it," he said.
A Class B state championship in the shot put was plenty enough reason to celebrate on this day, with Jurgens finishing ahead of Ashland-Greenwood's Brett Kitrell, another potential Husker football target, who threw 57-6. Jurgens will try to repeat as the Class B discus state champion Saturday, an event where he holds the top throw in the state of 182-6.
He'll push himself to be even better than Friday.
"It wasn't what I wanted to throw, but when you win gold at state, you can't be disappointed with anything,” Jurgens said of his shot put efforts.
Consider that Jurgens had produced a 63-3 in the event earlier this year, seventh all-time on the Nebraska chart, and you can see why throwing 60-plus is just another day's work to him.
The state meet is a different kind of pressure, though. Especially when you're expected to win, and so many are watching you.
"He said he wasn't nervous, but I don't know, he looked like he was," said his mother, Beth (Stuart) Jurgens, a former state and NAIA champion herself, who helps coach Beatrice's throwers. "Even at 60 foot, it's kind of sad that you feel disappointed, because he's been throwing 63 and a few 64s in practice. But we'll take it after today. We'll take that 60-foot throw."
She said it with a smile on her face.
Jurgens actually topped 60 feet on his last two throws, winning the event he placed third in last year as a freshman.
The amount of attention on him has changed significantly since then. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Jurgens pledged to the Husker football program as a tight end in August, believed to be the youngest recruit Nebraska's had. If there's pressure with that, the easygoing Jurgens doesn't really show it.
"He really does pretty well with it," his mom said. "He kind of keeps a level head. He kind of focuses on now. It's not that the future isn’t in his eyes. But he pretty much focuses on what he needs to do right now."
Besides, there’s family members with a bunch of athletic accomplishments themselves to keep him grounded.
"If we don't, his brother and sister do," she said. "He's the youngest and they watch after him pretty close."
They watched with pride Friday. Family took turns taking pictures with him in front of the sign posting his winning mark. Several parents wearing different school colors than his orange and black came over to shake his hand.
He just wowed onlookers at a Rivals football camp in Kansas City over the weekend, and he'll get back to that sport soon enough. But these are days to relish just as much.
"It's definitely very humbling," Jurgens said. "Everybody’s eyes are on me, so I want to go out there and be a good role model and try to perform like I did today."