Hays High School senior Denton Rathke grew up watching his older brother Tyler throw at Hays High, Barton Community College and Hastings College (Neb.) and decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps.

The younger Rathke started throwing in middle school and continued into high school, eventually garnering interest from colleges during his junior year.

That’s where Denton opted for a different path. He considered heading to Hastings to literally follow in his brother’s footsteps, but finalized a commitment to Tabor College, an NAIA schools in Hillsboro, by signing a National Letter of Intent on Thursday.

“It factored in a little bit,” Rathke said of his brother’s college decision. “I kinda wanted to do my own thing.”

While Hastings was in serious consideration, the campus atmosphere directed Rathke towards Hillsboro.

“(It was) just the small atmosphere I’d say,” he said. “All the people around are nice.”

High school throwing events are limited to the shot put and discus. Rathke prefers the latter, but in college his options expand a bit. Collegiate track and field offers the hammer throw where athletes toss a weighted ball affixed to a handle by a four-foot chain. Typically athletes spin in multiple circles before throwing, similar to the discus. Rathke said he has only thrown hammer once before.

While he’s still in high school, the senior has his sights set on improving his personal bests and earning a trip to Wichita for state.

“(I want to) get to state or PR, improve on my throw from last year,” he said.

The HHS senior also was a member of the Indian football team. Outside of athletics, he’s also involved in National Honor Society and the leadership team.

Rathke plans to major in accounting or a similar field in college.