From storied college careers to successful coaching stops in Division II to the middle of the I-75 rivalry, Derrick and Marcus Vicars have lived a track and field life.
The brothers were Division II All-Americans in throws at the University of Findlay, with Derrick winning the Division II national championship in the discus in 2010 and the shot put in 2012.
The two Genoa High School products found themselves in the midst of a heated competition Thursday as the Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo women’s track and field teams faced off in a dual meet. Derrick is in his second season as throws coach for Bowling Green, and Marcus is in his first year in the same position at Toledo.
“It will be fun,” Derrick said leading up to the meet. “It’s a dual meet for us, but we really see them almost every single week. We have very similar schedules. I get to coach against my brother, who has been out in Nebraska the past three years, so it will be fun.”
The meet ended in a 96-96 tie.
Derrick Vicars, Bowling Green State University throwing coach, gives instructions during the shot put.
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Individually, Bowling Green senior Aliyah Gustafson was the star of the throws, winning the shot put, discus, and hammer throw, while fellow Falcons senior Elizabeth Iversen took second in each of the three events.
Toledo freshman Karoline Steppin won the javelin throw, while Rockets junior Anna Bellman earned second place.
Competition brought the brothers together at the meet, and the two that are separated by 16 months in age remain close despite competing across enemy lines in the rivalry.
“We’re both in the same business here, so we both help each other out,” Derrick said. “Anytime we have questions, we will ask each other because we are good resources to have. It’s nice to be able to have people in the same industry that you can talk to, and the fact that it’s my brother really helps.”
After a five-year throws career at Findlay, Derrick actually coached Marcus for a year with the Oilers.
The two took similar routes to Bowling Green and Toledo, respectively.
Marcus Vicars, University of Toledo throwing coach, gives instructions to shot put thrower Katie Dewey.
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Derrick spent three years coaching at Findlay before taking over for former throws coach Matt Conley at Bowling Green. After graduating from Findlay, Marcus coached at Division II Chadron State in Nebraska for three years before joining the Toledo staff this season.
“We’ve grown up competing against each other in everything,” Marcus said. “We were competing against each other at the Division II level as coaches when he was at Findlay and I was at Chadron State. Now we get to take it to the Battle of I-75.”
Derrick joked he didn’t really recognize how much of a throws family he grew up in. Derrick said his mom, his dad, his aunt, and his uncles all threw growing up.
“We were a throws family, but I didn’t really get into it until high school, and then in college I really fell in love with it,” Derrick said.
Derrick and Marcus’ father Mike Vicars is a legendary high school football coach in the northwest Ohio area and has actually taken on a new role — that of throws coach at Whitmer High School.
“He is texting me and Marcus every other day asking us for advice and whatnot,” Derrick said. “It’s funny because he is such a successful high school football coach, and now he is asking us for help on the throws.”
“Now that he is not in football coaching, it is something that keeps us close as a family,” Marcus added. “You get busy, but he is always texting and asking questions and I’m more than happy to help him out. Throwing is in our family.”
Derrick and Marcus were coached early in their throwing careers by their aunt, Mary Reighard, a three-time state champion in the discus at Liberty Center and a two-time state champion in the shot put.
Reighard went on to compete collegiately at Toledo.
“My aunt Mary was the Division III state record holder in Ohio in the discus for many years,” Derrick said. “Without even knowing really, it has been in the family for a long time.”
In his limited time at Bowling Green, Derrick already has been named Great Lakes Region Assistant Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the team’s performance during this year’s indoor season.
“The Bowling Green throws group is one of the strongest in the country,” BGSU track and field coach Lou Snelling said in a release after Derrick won the award. “This award is a testament to Derrick’s hard work and development of that group. The women have wholeheartedly bought into his philosophy and achieved at an impressive level.”
Marcus is adjusting to coaching at the Division I level.
“It’s been a pretty smooth transition,” Marcus said. “The depth and the quality of the competitors is higher. The Division II level is getting better too, and the national meets are getting harder to qualify for. This was a good opportunity to get back close to home and get close to family. So far we’ve had a really successful year.”
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