Nate Dyer devotes much of his free time to studying shot put and discus footage.
Twelve days ago, the Kaneland senior gladly produced his own highlight reel.
Dyer's personal-best put settled 58 feet, 5 1/4 inches from where he launched it at the Class 2A boys track and field state meet at Eastern Illinois. Moments later, the Kane County Chronicle Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year set foot atop the podium to receive a state championship medal.
"When I was in the ring, I knew it had been a good throw," Dyer said, "but when I came back around and got to see it land, you know, close to the 60-foot mark, I knew that I was going to seal the deal."
His Knights teammates might have called Dyer a closer if not for the fact that field events traditionally conclude before the final action on the track.
In that case – and with apologies to the meet officials who rev up the raves – call the 5-foot-8, 205-pound Dyer Kaneland's starter. Dyer usually led the second-best team in Class 2A in scoring, losing just twice in the shot put all season while proving a steady force in the discus, too.
He finished seventh in the 2A discus (152-4) after his shot put title early in the day jolted the Knights' bid to dethrone Cahokia, now the state's four-time defending champ.
"He does a lot of things right, but he generates so much speed in the ring for a high school-aged athlete," Kaneland coach Eric Baron said. "That's something that usually comes with years and years of experience and studying lots of tape, but he does it now."
Baron pegged Dyer as the Knight most likely to become a track coach even before he joined the DeKalb County Prairie Runners club as an assistant. Dyer works with athletes in middle school or younger four nights a week while also competing for the Prairie Runners.
Most of his tutelage involves technique, which Dyer often loads up on as a frequent consumer of track videos. The mental side of throwing is an equal area of expertise.
Dyer admitted he "was a little scared" entering 2014 after what he felt was a stagnant junior season marred by a muscle strain in his right, throwing, shoulder. He finished ninth at the state meet with a put of 51-10, which represented only a slight jump from his sophomore year. The injury limited him to just a few discus attempts all season.
He relocated an edge by looking both inside and around him. Recuperating and adding weight after another stout season as the Kaneland football team's fullback, Dyer quickly found a rhythm as indoor track season began.
One subtle component to his collection of indoor shot victories – including one at the 2A Illinois Prep Top Times meet, unofficially the indoor state meet – was the presence of classmate Alex Snyder. Snyder, also a football teammate, finished fifth in the 2A shot put with a throw of 54-5 1/2, also a PR.
"I knew I had a target on my back and knew that all these guys were coming after me, so I just had to stay strong and not let anything get in my head," Dyer said. "Having Al with me in the competion helped a lot, you know. Having a teammate there with you makes a big difference."
Not to worry, Snyder said. There was plenty of camaraderie to go around on the Knights' first state runner-up since 2010.
"I've noticed a bond as strong as ours throughout the entire team just with anybody else here," Snyder said at the state meet. "It's kind of just unreal. There's not, like, groups of people. Like distance and throwers. It's everybody."
Dyer's final double-victory came at the 2A Burlington Central Sectional, helping Kaneland defeat the host Rockets by more than 100 points in the team race. A few days later, he received a call from a coach at Southern Illinois.
Dyer got back to the Salukis after the state meet said he is considering attending the school and going out for track if he is accepted. He initially committed to NCAA Division III Wisconsin-LaCrosse.
He knows his college situation will be resolved soon enough. Until then, Dyer loves his routine.
Watch others throw, throw himself, show budding throwers the ropes.