Standing at just 6 feet tall and weighing just more than 200 pounds, Torrey Hickle isn’t what most people expect a thrower to look like.
And that’s just fine for him.
“People think it’s how big you are. But they don’t see the technical side. It’s about finding what is best for you,” he said.
The Desert Vista junior finished 14th in the state for shot put and fourth in the discus. But it’s not the place he finishes on which Hickle focuses.
“It should always be about improving,” Hickle said. “I’m always competing against myself, just to get better from the last performance.”
Hickle got interested in throwing when he was in fifth grade. Now he is considered one of the premier underclassmen throwers in the state.
“I would just go with my dad (Troy) to practice after school. My dad really got me into it and helped me along the way,” he said.
Hickle’s father is the throws coach for the Desert Vista track team. Torrey said he really appreciates the help from his father.
“He’s always helping me with the little things in my technique,” the incoming junior said. “He keeps me eating right and is a big help with weight training.”
In the last year, the Desert Vista athlete has picked up a new event, the hammer throw. But because of safety reasons, the state of Arizona does not permit it in high school competition.
“It’s really hard to find time to practice because I have high school practice, and homework, and all of that. I spend most of my weekends training with a private coach,” Hickle said.
He said it was fun picking up a new event and expanding his range. He’s already seen improvement in his performance, placing fourth at the Great Southwest Classic with his personal-best throw of 149-11.
“I wasn’t really focused on place,” Hickle said. “But I improved my distance from the last event, so I was pleased with myself.”
Another event struggling to find a place in Arizona high school track meets is the javelin, and two Ahwatukee residents are excelling anyway.
The Ramirez brothers, Aaron and Alex, have competed at the national level in the javelin, but as Aaron approaches his senior year at Mountain Pointe, the event is still only being talked about by the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA).
Maybe by the time Alex, who will be a freshman at Mountain Pointe, is a senior, he will be able to show off his javelin technique.
There have been reports the AIA is considering the idea of adding the sport with the safer Turbo Jav, which has a rubber tip.
Until then, the Ramirezes will have to keep competing in qualifying events in order to qualify for the USA Youth National Track Championships, an event Aaron has won four times, later this month.
“The big meets are exhilarating,” Aaron told the Arizona Republic. “When you make a big throw, there is no better feeling.”
Hickle knows a little something about that.
And his commitment to improvement is apparent in his personal records for his throws. In 2013, he threw the discus for 120-6 and the shot for 39-8 as a freshman. During the spring season, he improved to 156-1 and 50-5.5, respectively.
He said that while he improved, it doesn’t mean winning isn’t important to him, and his biggest accomplishment was winning the Tempe city meet in discus.
Chris Hanson, head Desert Vista track coach, said Hickle’s work ethic is what drives his success.
“He’s coachable and he has the talent. He understands that it’s a process and he can see the big picture. A lot of kids his age don’t see that,” Hanson said. “It’s why his coaches like working with him. They see the maturity and leadership he possesses and they look forward to that.”
Hickle still has two more years at Desert Vista, but he already has aspirations to compete at the collegiate level.
“If I could go anywhere for throwing, it would be Stanford because of their academics and the compete level of the Pac-12,” Hickle said.
Staff writer Jason P. Skoda contributed to this story.
• Will Argeros is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.