Before joining the track and field team last year, Loyola senior Diego Collado had never thrown a shot put in his life.

On Saturday at Loyola, he won a Catholic League championship with a mark of 47 feet, 8 inches. The Ramblers finished first in four events to total 122 points to share the conference title with St. Laurence at the 14-team meet.

“Honestly, I didn’t know I’d be good at it,” he said. “I’m blessed to have found something I love and that I am good at. This is a dream come true.”

Collado came to the track and field team in an unusual way. After trying soccer and crew as a freshman, he didn’t play a sport as a sophomore. He returned to athletics as a junior and chose track and field for a practical reason.

“My best friend is [senior sprinter and jumper] Jack McCall, and he was my ride home,” said Collado, who lives in Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood. “He had to be there every day for practice, so I figured why not try it. Turns out, I was pretty good at shot put.”

Collado finished eighth at the indoor conference meet and fourth at the outdoor conference meet last season. He then won the indoor league meet this year with a throw of 49-9 before Saturday’s crowning achievement. Collado credited throwing coach Tony Belmont with his quick rise.

“He’s had a tremendous impact on me,” Collado said. “He’s one of the most amazing people in my life.”

Collado set a career high May 4 at Glenbrook South’s invitational with a mark of 52-5, which is two inches shy of the state-qualifying standard for Class 3A. The Ramblers host a sectional Thursday, and Collado’s goal is to compete at his first state meet.

“It’s attainable,” he said.

Senior Declan Ritzenthaler finished first in both the 110-meter high hurdles (15.40 seconds) and pole vault (13-6) at the Catholic League’s meet. He took second in the 300 intermediate hurdles (40.31). Both hurdles’ times were personal-bests.

“He was the man,” Loyola head coach Dan Seeberg said. “He was a big player for us in those three events.”

Senior Luke Phillips made major contributions Saturday. He ran the anchor leg on the 4×400 relay team that finished first in 3:30.80 and rallied the Ramblers to the co-championship. Phillips took second in the 800 (1:59.25) and fourth in the 400 (53.04).

Senior Connor Hoag placed second in the 3,200 (9:41.11), and junior Jack Loveland was second in the 400 (50.56). Loveland led off the 4×400 relay, which also featured seniors Marc Daly and Connor Mocny.

Senior Jack McCall earned valuable points by placing fifth in the 100 (11.30), fifth in the long jump (20-1 1/2) and sixth in the 200 (22.90).

“He went out there and did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Seeberg said of McCall.