Alec Rideout suffered a shoulder injury last spring that ended his javelin throwing career. As one of the top performers on Canon-McMillan’s track and field team, Rideout found his niche in the shot put, in which his throws, more often than not, have gone farther than his opponents.
At the WPIAL Championships last spring, Rideout surprised his competition in the Class AAA shot put with a throw of 53-6 3/4 in the finals, earning him second place behind Gateway’s Anthony Bauccio.
Six days prior to the championship meet, he took second place in the shot put and first in the discus at the WPIAL Individual Qualifiers at West Mifflin High School.
With Bauccio graduated and Rideout entering his senior track and field season, he is one of the favorites to stand atop the podium at this season’s WPIAL championship meet.
Rideout, who competed on the Big Macs’ wrestling team this winter, did not let the wear and tear of grueling matches stop him from preparing for another strong spring sports season. Every day after wrestling practice, Rideout would spend up to an hour in Canon-McMillan’s gymnasium running on the track and practicing his shot put technique.
The work paid off when he took sixth at the indoor track season’s state championships.
“It’s just hard work on his part,” Canon-McMillan head coach Mike Koot said. “He’s one of those guys who will put in the extra work and he helps the younger guys out. He’ll stay after (practice) and work on his own. He spends a lot of time with our other coaches and he’s one of our leaders.”
After a strong showing as the runner-up in the Class AAA shot put, Rideout qualified for the PIAA Track & Field Championships last spring but was unable to repeat the success he had against WPIAL competition.
“Throughout my team, the kids who usually do well are the ones who stay after and continue to work,” Koot said. “It’s much more difficult in track if you don’t put in individual time. It’s very hard in track to just show up and do OK. Having a senior like that, and having him achieve the things he’s doing, is definitely setting a good example.”
The Big Macs are trying to replicate a strong 2013 season, which ended with strong performances in section meets, but the girls and boys teams have different question marks. The girls team only has five seniors among 53 athletes, while the boys team is trying athletes at new events to see what works best.
One advantage Canon-McMillan’s girls team has is junior sprinter Riley Leisman, who had a third-place finish in the Class AAA 100-meter dash at last year’s WPIAL Individual Championships and fourth place in the 200-meter dash.
After seeing unexpected success in 2013, Leisman made the decision to quit the Big Macs’ soccer team and run cross country. While her individual numbers did not stand out, Leisman built up her endurance to better prepare for the long track season.
When participating in indoor track, Leisman surpassed her personal best and qualified for the state championship meet in the 200-meter dash.
Koot has the benefit of having strong athletes who aren’t complacent after experiencing success for the first time. With Rideout and Leisman, he has observed two who will not settle for good and strive for great.
“We’ve had a great group the past few years,” Koot said. ” The ones who have achieved something tend to be hungry on their own. They seem to expect more of themselves. I’ve never seen any collapse under pressure. They seem to always work harder. “
After defeating Chartiers Valley in a non-section meet last week, the Big Macs host Southmoreland Thursday.