Getting a handle on the shot put

Technique is a work in progress, and explosiveness isn’t quite there.

But you’d never know it by results.

Franklin College junior Erica Christy is already the most accomplished shot put thrower in the history of the women’s track and field program and is positioned to reach the NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championships later in the spring.

Off to a sterling start, she has the 13th-best throw in the nation and has been selected the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Field Athlete of the Week three times so far this season.

All of the above belies the fact Christy, a former standout at Greenwood Community High School, still hasn’t reached her ceiling.

“She’s really had to re-do a lot of her technique in throwing, and it just takes awhile to be comfortable in that,” Franklin coach Paul Sargent said. “She’s just now getting to the point where she’s really comfortable in what she’s doing, and we’re seeing that in meets.”

A three-year member of the Grizzlies’ indoor and outdoor teams, Christy has been among the top shot putters in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference since her arrival.

She has earned a level of all-conference recognition all three years, is the defending outdoor champion and is the school-record holder for the indoor and outdoor seasons.

Yet she is still learning the finer points of throwing the shot in college.

One of the physically strongest athletes in the HCAC, Christy still is working on technique. Or more specifically, she is re-learning technique.

A state meet qualifier at Greenwood, Christy largely got by on strength in high school. But since her arrival at Franklin, coaches have been working with her to raise her technique level to that of her strength level.

“When I first came in, I had (some) correct technique because I threw it pretty far,” Christy said. “I’ve really worked on getting my hips into it and driving, because when I came in I didn’t have much drive with throwing the shot.

“So we’ve really been working on that and just being more explosive, because I’m not very explosive.”

As the results reflect, she’s getting closer.

Christy opened the season by winning the shot put at the eight-team Early Bird Invitational at Rose-Hulman. Her season-opening throw of 12.03 meters was the 10th-best in the nation at the time, and came in the wake of a successful indoor season.

She finished second at the conference indoor championships and narrowly missed qualifying for the indoor nationals. She had the 25th-best throw in the nation, a school-record effort of 13.12 meters.

“Indoor season was pretty good,” Christy said. “I’d never hit 13 (meters) before, so I was surprised when I did.”

Surprised, and encouraged.

Although she has yet to hit 13 meters outdoors, she fully expects to do so. And then some. If she does, she expects it to be good enough for a national qualification. The top 19 make it to nationals. She was 25th last year, about a half-meter from the postseason.

“I should have a chance to go to nationals. That is my goal for outdoor, to make it to nationals,” Christy said. “I want to try to hit 13.5 in my outdoor season this year.”

Although shot put is her specialty, it isn’t her only event.

In the indoor season, she also does the discus and weight throw. In the outdoor season, she does the discus and hammer throw.

During both seasons, Christy habitually wins the shot put and is a consistent scorer in the other throws.

“She’s a power thrower, and the discus and hammer are both a little bit more technique-related,” Sargent said. “She’s getting better. She gets in there and works her butt off, but shot’s definitely where she’s more comfortable, and it suits her athleticism a little bit better, as well.”

A three-sport athlete at Greenwood, Christy competed in track all four years, played varsity basketball for three and was the varsity goalie for one season on the soccer team.

But track is her passion, the shot put her specialty and the national finals her objective.

“I’m pretty confident I’m going to throw a 13. I’m pretty confident I’ll throw it this season, and hopefully that takes me up to nationals,” Christy said. “My goal is to hit a 13.5 and be able to make it to nationals.”

The Christy File

Name: Erica Christy

College: Franklin

Sport: Track and field

Year: Junior

High school: Greenwood (2013)

Events: Outdoors, shot put, discus, hammer throw; indoors, shot put, discus, weight throw

School records: Indoor shot put record, 13.13 meters; outdoor shot put record, 12.97 meters

2016 highlights: Second Team Indoor All-HCAC; placed second in shot put at conference championships; ranks 13th nationally in NCAA Division III in outdoor shot put.

2015 highlights: First Team Outdoor All-HCAC; won outdoor shot put at conference championships; Second Team Indoor All-HCAC; placed second in shot put at conference indoor championships.

2014 highlights: Second Team Indoor All-HCAC; placed second in shot put at indoor conference championships; placed third in shot at conference outdoor championships.

Favorite TV show: Grey’s Anatomy

Favorite movie: Nicholas Sparks films

Hobbies: Working out, spending time with friends

Major: Elementary education

Parents: Kay Hensley and Paul Christy

Author photo
Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.