Quinn Smith didn’t want to wait. After a trip to the outdoor state championships in the discus last June, the Hampton Bays thrower was hooked on track and field. He wanted to throw, he wanted to throw far, and he wanted to throw often.
So, instead of taking the winter off after a demanding football season, Smith decided to jump right into the indoor shot put scene.
“Going to states was pretty influential,” said Smith, who is a running back and linebacker on the school’s football team. “I wanted to get bigger, stronger, faster and I wanted to refine my technique. When football was over, I didn’t hesitate to join the winter team…I just wanted to get a head start on everything.”
And, he has dived head first into winning. Smith notched a shot put victory at the North Shore Invitational on Dec. 26, tossing a personal best 49 feet, 3 ¾ inches. That distance ranks Smith second on Long Island, behind Amityville’s Alton Kimbrough — who threw 51 feet, two inches at the Marine Corps Holiday Classic on Dec. 29 — as of Friday, according to milesplit.com.
“I’ve been working hard for the last month or two with weight training and just constantly throwing,” said Smith, who is 6-1 and 250. “I’m trying to do my best every time I go out there.”
Going into the circle is the culmination of a lot of preparation, both physically and mentally. Smith goes to the gym to weight train every day, taking only the occasional Sunday off.
As far as the technical aspects of throwing, Smith said he is relatively self-taught. When not lifting weights, he watches videos of famous throwers on YouTube, absorbing techniques that he takes back to practice. Former German throwers Ulf Timmermann and Wolfgang Schmidt, and former Swiss thrower Werner Gunthor are some of his favorites.
“A lot of these guys are throwing pretty far and obviously know what they’re doing,” Smith said. “I just try to pick up and learn from them. I take information from as many people as I can and try to work it into what I do.”
Lately, Smith has been working on making sure his body is more compact, or closed, as he moves through the circle.
“When you glide across the circle, you don’t open up,” he said. “Instead of facing out, you stay closed, so you get good separation between your feet and upper body and get more torque.”
That torque has already brought three victories. He threw 48 feet, five inches to win at a Suffolk Crossover meet on Dec. 9 and 46 feet, nine inches to win at a Suffolk Crossover meet on Dec. 22.
Not bad for a first time indoor athlete.
“It’s good to see myself improve week by week,” Smith said. “It’s exciting to see the numbers go up.”