As Blue Springs High School graduates Carlos and Khalil Davis prepare for Friday’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Texas, they laugh as they think back to those glory days when they were the best 1-2 high school discus performers in the nation.
The University of Nebraska seniors, who still have a year of eligibility in football, will compete for the first time together at the NCAA Championships.
The last time they competed on the big stage together – the 2013 Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships – they stood alone in the spotlight.
No one who was at the event in Jefferson City will ever forget Carlos’ state-record shattering throw of 212 feet 5 inches, followed by Khalil’s mark of 197 feet – which would have been a state-title throw in the previous nine years.
When officials placed Davis’ distance on the scoreboard, he put his hands on his head and gazed at the staggering numbers.
“I almost started to cry,” Davis said. “But I didn’t want to cry in front of everyone. I just looked at 212-5 and couldn’t believe it. When I let it go, I knew it was a special throw. But I didn’t know it was that special.”
It marked just the second time their senior season that Carlos had defeated Khalil in the discus.
“I’m happy for Carlos,” Khalil said then. “I still don’t know how to describe what he just did. We work so hard, and we’re so competitive, it was great that he got that state record.”
And now, that competitive drive is incendiary as they both seek All-America status in the discus.
They agree that pushing each other is a big reason Carlos is in his second consecutive NCAA championship meet and Khalil is in his first.
Carlos finished third at this year’s Big Ten Championships with a toss of 183 feet, 3 inches, and then finished fourth and earned the No. 9 spot in program history last weekend at the NCAA West Preliminary Round with a throw of 191-11.
Khalil qualified last weekend with a throw of 181-11 to finish 10th at the NCAA West preliminary round.
“I’m so happy and proud of Khalil – just like old times at state with the Wildcats,” Carlos said by phone Wednesday afternoon following a practice session in Austin. “I told him the hardest part was getting to nationals, because regionals is no joke.
“You only get three throws, and you’ve got to do your best. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous (last weekend). My first throw was not good. I made it on my last attempt! But I got it done and we’re here together.”
Khalil, who has been battling injuries this season, said he is thrilled to join Carlos at the NCAA Championships.
“I didn’t know if I would make it or not,” Khalil said. “I’ve had a hamstring issue, but I felt pretty good last week and made it through. And that’s huge, to share this with Carlos. And what makes it even more special is that our mom and dad (Carl and Tracie) are on their way down from Blue Springs to watch us.”
Both seniors are thankful for the cooperation between the track and football coaching staffs so they could compete in both sports (they were redshirt freshmen their first year, which allows them to play one more football season).
“It’s always good to do something new, because you can get worn out in a sport like football,” Khalil said. “It’s just a good relief. But we don’t want to be gone too long, because football still is our number one sport. We always love to get back.”
Khalil is coming off a junior season that saw him lead the Husker defensive line with a career-high 41 tackles, more than doubling his career total entering the year. He also posted career highs with eight tackles for loss, three sacks and four quarterback hurries.
Carlos finished with 27 tackles, and has set his sights this upcoming season on a special goal.
“We want to both be All-Americans,” Carlos said, “and we want to win a Big Ten title for our fans, our coaches and everyone on the team. And we have the players and the scheme to get that done.”
But before either of them think about their final year on the Huskers defensive line, they hope to take care of business Friday.
A top-eight finish would garner All-America status.
“I’m in a different flight than Carlos, so I hope to set the tone and then we can both compete against each other for All-American status,” Khalil said. “We’re pretty competitive and get after it when we compete against each other.”
Carlos was quick to add, “Whether we’re out fishing, or throwing or playing football, you know we’re going to compete against each other. It brings out the best in both of us.”