LAKEWOOD — Although Chris Moralez is the throws coach for the Grand Junction Central High School track and field team, his first love and passion is football. So, the longtime coach can remember a few years ago when he tried to recruit Daniel Baroumbaye to the Warriors’ football team.

The response was quick and clear, “He said, ‘sorry coach, I’m a pacifist,’” Moralez recalls. “It’s just not in his DNA. But he’s a good human being, man. A 4.0 student, helps his teammates with whatever they need. If he did play a team sport, he’d be the type of guy to completely change the culture. He’s an alpha and his teammates wouldn’t buck up to him, but at the same time he’s kind, considerate and extremely focused. You’d love to have that on a football team, but he makes me a better coach here, too.”

Baroumbaye opting for track seems to have worked out, as the senior won not only the Class 4A discus — an event in which he was heavily favored to win — but also turned a third seed into a podium-topping performance in the 4A shot put. His pair of first-place finishes during the Colorado state track and field championships this weekend at Jeffco Stadium was the culmination of a prep track career focused on strength training, body awareness and countless hours honing technique.

He uncorked a spin of 194 feet, 11 inches on Thursday to dominate the 4A field in discus, winning by nearly 40 feet. It’s a record for both 4A and the 4A state meet, and among the top distances in the nation. Although he didn’t quite reach his ultimate goal of clearing 200 feet — a distance at which precise measurements become a struggle at Jeffco Stadium — his worst throw from this season would’ve still easily won him a state championship.

All that stems from a hunger to improve on a second-place finish at the 2022 meet.

“I was gunning for a state title to really break through my own barriers,” Baroumbaye said. “I really wanted to throw more than 200 feet, but that was mostly to try and be the best I can be.”

He followed that up with a heave of 60 feet in the shot put to secure a second state title, winning that event by more than five feet and securing a personal record by more than four feet.

Earlier this spring, he signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Colorado State University, a school he chose because they’ve produced Olympic athletes.

His path to track didn’t start with a coach or trainer, however. It began with his older brother, Kelita, who won a state title in the triple jump for Gunnison in 2019. Kelita stayed in town to compete for Western Colorado State University even as his family moved to Grand Junction, and his younger brother caught the track and field bug.

Baroumbaye tried numerous events but saw the most improvement in throwing. With the help of Central coaches and Arete Throws Nation videos, he homed in on his technique. Moralez said the bulk of practice involves throwing in front of a camera and breaking down the throws. Often, Baroumbaye will point out problems before Moralez can say anything and the coach said the student’s body control is “second to none.”

“His work ethic is unparalleled,” Moralez said. “I’ve coached a lot of guys, some who are playing on Sunday, and he’s every bit the athlete those guys are. He’s pure potential. He’ll power clean 345 smooth as you like. He has a 38-inch vertical. Whatever he wants to do, he could do it. If he wanted to sprint, he would be a phenomenal sprinter. He can jump. He would succeed in any sport because that’s the type of kid that he is. He’s the type of kid that makes you want to be a better coach so you can get every inch of potential out of him. I’m a football guy, but you better believe I’m working hard to be as good of a coach as I can for throws.”

Baroumbaye credits his parents and four siblings for helping instill a work ethic and love of competition. He said they’re all successful and busy, and aren’t always at his meets, but said he knows they have his back. His family immigrated to the United States from Chad in 2008 and although he doesn’t remember much besides the long flights, he’s thankful for the opportunities he’s had.

When he’s not honing his throwing skills, he’s watching anime — Isekai being his favorite — or listening to Afro R&B.
Even if track is largely an individual sport, his work ethic and kindness have spread to his teammates. Warriors head track coach Ted Leblow said it’s hard to place a value on what Baroumbaye brings to the team.

“I can’t say enough about Daniel as a person,” Leblow said. “He obviously has the athletic ability to go a long way, but he’s an amazing guy. You talk to the kid and he’s always happy, always smiling, always chasing big aspirations and at the same time very humble about it. He’s just a great human being.”