Jan. 14—CHEYENNE — Auggie Lain didn't start throwing shot put until his sophomore year, but it didn't take him long to fall in love with the sport.
The Cheyenne Central senior immersed himself in learning the finer points of the technique, which has helped him catch up to his competitors in a short time. Lain placed seventh at the Wyoming state indoor track and field meet last season, heaving the shot a personal-best distance of 49 feet, 4 1/2 inches. He backed that with a seventh-place effort at the state outdoor meet, posting an outdoor best of 48-6 1/2 .
Being able to get up to speed as quickly as he did is part of what led Lain to eschew a sport he grew up playing in favor of track.
"I wasn't really into sports when I was a kid, but the sport I was about was baseball," said Lain, whose father, Jade, was a longtime pitching coach for the Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 baseball program. "I kind of started behind the curve in baseball. It's hard to make up ground if you haven't practiced really hard starting about fifth grade.
"In track, I had the opportunity to catch up quicker. What I didn't do when I was younger wasn't holding me back."
Even though Lain didn't qualify for the limited-entry state meet during his first foray into throwing, he showed rapid improvement. He went from throwing 33-0 1/2 at his first meet to 39-2 1/2 by his third and final meet. He improved by nearly five feet during his first outdoor campaign.
Lain returned to the baseball diamond that summer, but hasn't been back since.
"It was a tough decision, but I really love throwing," Lain said. "It's technical and analytical as much as it is physical. It's kind of like a puzzle you're trying to put together.
"You're trying to find the words to say to yourself that make your technique better. It's so engaging mentally."
Central indoor head coach Bruce Mowry works specifically with the team's throwers. Lain has come to understand as much about throwing shot put as any athlete he's coached over the past three decades.
"He really studies it by watching a lot of YouTube and social media videos," Mowry said. "There are a lot of people who post things about throwing, and there are a couple of really good coaches that have websites he looks at.
"He's always trying to be up on the latest stuff, and that's helped him catch up quickly technically."
Lain found a lot of the same pieces of technique online, but some coaches had different ways of explaining them. Hearing the same thing explained in different verbiage gave Lain greater opportunity for the teaching to click.
"I found some things that worked for me and made me a little more explosive in the first part of the throw," he said. "There also was good advice about how to compete. We don't have a lot of time to talk about that sort of thing with coach Mowry.
"I found advice on how long to take in the ring when you're getting set up, and how to feel the energy of the meet and use it to make you better."
Lain is thoughtful and measured when he talks. It's the way he approaches any task he takes on. If something truly captures his interest, he'll throw himself into knowing its intricacies. Throwing was no different.
"I haven't stopped thinking about throwing since I came out for track my sophomore year," he said. "I've thrown constantly and watched any content I can about technique. I've also talked to people I know in the real world who are pretty good throwers.
"All of that has come together and worked out pretty well for me."
Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.