Throwers Give It Their Best Shot


Mina Willander ('23)

Rocket throwers are a tight-knit group.

John Quinn ('23), Orbit Contributor

Each day in the Hawkes Fieldhouse, a tradition that dates back nearly 10 centuries is performed. The throwing division of the indoor track team participates in the ancient activity of “putting the stone,” an event first created to determine the strongest men for battle.

Good Chemistry

The shot put team is a very niche group of RMHS athletes made up largely of seniors. There are eight members of the team including seniors Connor Gorski, Peter Tompkins, Brady Swanson, Henry Gresh, Alec Grande, and Liam Tierney; junior Jerry Gauvin; and freshmen Drew Gorski and Anthony Fratto. For every dual meet, four members are assigned to the varsity team to compete for Reading. Each week is a battle to get in the top four with the five top throwers on the team having a tight range of personal records between thirty-five feet and forty-five feet.

Alec Grande explained the high level of competition on the team. “We all want to outperform each other and we have a good chemistry going in–who’s going to throw further and who’s not.” The shot putters believe that this competitiveness allows them to push each other to get better and will benefit the track team as a whole. However, they do not let the fight for varsity pull the team apart. Alec also talked about how the team was there to help each other. “We all work together to get better, to get stronger, and we all want to meet a personal goal and help the younger kids get better.” They don’t just look out for each other, but for the future of the program as well. Senior Connor Gorski backed up Grande’s claims as well. When asked about the culture of the team, he echoed a similar statement. “Every one of the throwers seem to get along, and a lot of us have common joke themes like picking on each other. It’s a very good vibe, and we all get along.” The team is built of leaders with lots of experience. The six seniors all have at least two years of shot-putting experience, and they all work together to head the team as the season progresses.

Careful Practice

Practices for the shot put team vary depending on what part of the season the track team is in and on what days the meets fall. Outdoor track shot put coach Mr. Fiore explained the set up of the practice schedule. “Certain days are more dedicated to overall power and functionality with the implements.” He also described how other days would focus on other parts of the throwing process. “If it’s a day where we’re going to emphasize our release, we’re going to do a lot of medicine ball work as an entire throwing team.” Lots of practice time is spent working on footwork and weight transfer, as the technical parts of shot put are just as important as the brute strength it takes to throw the heavy ball. So, some practices are designed around the technical aspect of the sport, while others are spent increasing power.

…we all want to meet a personal goal and help the younger kids get better.

— Alec Grande ('23)

Coach Fiore described how a practice focused on building power typically goes. “We won’t do any throwing and we’ll do a heavy weight training session in the weight room and a lot of sprints outside.” No matter what, the practices are always challenging. Connor Gorski showed this in his description of a workout they completed. “The workouts are excruciating. Yesterday, for example, we had to run one 400, then we went inside and threw for a little bit, but the day before we had to do about six hills with about a three minute break after three. So, you know, they get tough but we make sure we’re working.” 

Indoors, there is no coach for the throws team specifically. Head coach Coach Price gives them their workouts and spends some time with them during each practice, but it is impossible for him to coach them all practice with all the other events he needs to look over. Even without a coach, though, the shot putters can rely on each other to stay on task and work hard, largely thanks to the great leadership they have from the seniors. Alec Grande explained how practices without a coach with them go. “It goes smoothly because we all know what we’ve got to do to get better. Sometimes we get off track, but then we get back on track and do what we have to do.” Connor Gorski explained how having so much experience on the team helps keep them productive without a designated coach. “We all have that leadership experience, and we’re all experienced to know what we’re doing with the workouts so we don’t really get off task.” 

A Proud History

The fight to get better at the shotput comes from a long Reading history of success in the event. All of the current throwers take pride in the program’s past victories and dedication, and they hope to carry on that legacy. When asked about his experience at RMHS as a shot putter, Coach Fiore recalled, “My senior year we had two fifty foot shot putters, and then we had three guys that were in solid mid forties, forty-five forty-six, and they fought it out to be the third man behind myself and Eric.” The current members can find inspiration in the program’s past years of greatness, especially when working with Coach Fiore in the spring who has the experience on those teams. Connor Gorski spoke highly about Coach Fiore and said, “Coach Fiore is a very good coach. He knows what he’s talking about, he threw shot put at Providence.”

Season Outlook

This season, the shot putters are feeling excited and confident to take on the league, and they are looking forward to doing so at the brand new New Balance track in Boston. With their depth and experience, they feel ready to start competing in league dual meets. Alec Grande summed up his feelings saying, “We’re a pretty strong group and I feel like we’re going to succeed this year in the Middlesex League.”

All of the throwers are ready to transfer their in-team competition to the other Middlesex league teams, and they all have goals in mind. For Peter Tompkins, he is trying to get to an impressive 50-foot throw, and the other seniors are looking to break the forty foot mark. Jerry Gauvin, the lone junior, is pushing to hit thirty feet, while the two freshmen Drew and Anthony are working to hit twenty-five.

As the season begins, everyone is very excited to see how this explosive group of Reading athletes progress over the next three months.