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Minor feats

South Brunswick senior Colin Minor works out with the hammer in the backyard of his home in Boiling Spring Lakes on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. Minor finished 12th in the hammer throw at the world youth championships in July in the Ukraine. (Photo by Mike Spencer)

Colin Minor outgrew his backyard – and then his high school – when it came to finding somewhere to practice.

Minor is an accomplished thrower for the South Brunswick track & field team. He is the defending Class 3A outdoor state champion in shot put and also won the state indoor title. But his favorite, and perhaps best, event is the hammer throw, which is not offered in high school.

In July, Minor competed for the United States in the International Association of Athletic Federations World Youth Championships in Ukraine. He finished 12th out of 39 and was the only American in the event, making him the top thrower in the country.

"It was a terrific experience," Minor said. "It was my very first international competition. The selection process (was cool). Just doing well made the whole experience awesome."

After competing in a trial meet in Illinois, he was picked by a selection committee. The selection came shortly after the trial meet, which meant Minor and his mother had to stay in town and wait to find out if he made the team.

"I was just looking to slide into one of the last spots," Minor said. "It was a really short amount of time. It was definitely stressful and nerve-racking."

Outgrowing practice fields

Finding a place to practice has been a struggle for Minor. He has about 200 feet of space in his backyard, but that's not enough when he gets into the bulk of his training. Minor used to throw at South Brunswick but had to stop because the throwing area runs too close to the practice football field.

"It's hard to find facilities to throw at," Minor said. "I used to throw at the high school, but I was asked to stop doing that. And I totally understand their reasoning."

Sometimes Minor goes to UNC-Wilmington to throw. Other times he works with his coach in Myrtle Beach, David Vandergriff, who has also trained U.S. Olympian Amber Campbell.

Minor tries to get to Myrtle Beach every two weeks but didn't get to train with Vandergriff much this summer. Despite the lack of options, Minor still worked himself into top form. He was in 13th place in the preliminaries of the world championships before launching a throw of 71.52 meters (234 feet, 7 inches), a personal best of almost two meters, to slide into 12th and qualify for the finals.

"I see all the guys are a lot bigger and stronger than me," Colin said. "I keep thinking if I get a little bigger and stronger, maybe I can move up."

Minor has a role model for hammer throw; his brother Ryan set a pretty high standard. Ryan, who graduated from South Brunswick in 2011, was a two-time champion in shot put. He went to Appalachian State before transferring to Coastal Carolina. Ryan and Colin's father, Andre, also has throwing experience.

When he was in sixth grade, Colin watched Ryan throw at a camp in Myrtle Beach, and he was hooked.

"I remember going there to watch him and really enjoying it," Colin said. "I decided to go to camp after that. As much as I hate to say it, I've always looked up to my brother."

Colin's progress was evident. After his year at Appalachian, Ryan came back and noticed his brother was stronger had a refined technique. Watching Colin compete in an international meet was a high point.

"It was eye-opening," Ryan said. "Watching a web cast, seeing Colin in his USA uniform. He looked like a professional thrower."

Neither Ryan nor Colin have the bulky look of many throwers. Ryan, the "big" brother, is only 5-foot-10, 190 pounds. Colin sees that as a way to improve. He hopes to continue his international competition, and bulking up might help him do that.

Nailing down a more convenient practice space couldn't hurt, either.

Vince Nairn: 343-2262

On Twitter: @starnewssports