Corey Critell decided as a sophomore at Greenbrier to give track a shot.
He and a friend tried out for the team, and Critell quickly picked up what would later become his best event.
"I just picked up a shot put," Critell said. "I kind of just taught myself."
Critell enrolled at Augusta Christian this year as a senior, finished second in the shot put at the South Carolina Independent Schools Association AAA state meet, and signed a track scholarship with Shorter College on May 29.
Critell said he received some coaching through summer camps at the University of Georgia, but he said his progression as an athlete has been mostly a personal endeavor. Critell added the long jump to his schedule as a junior and was a fullback and linebacker on the Lions' football team in 2007.
He said coaches at Shorter might peg him as a decathlete. Augusta Christian track coach Charles Cooper said Critell is versatile enough for the role.
"Once he learns some technique and really hits the weights -- because I know that's going to be a big thing -- I think he's definitely going to improve," Cooper said.
Critell's personal best in the shot put is 49 feet, 7.5 inches, which at the time was the third-best throw in South Carolina for both public and private schools. He threw 47-11 to finish second at the SCISA state meet in April.
"I should have won it," Critell said. "My PR (personal record) was a foot-and-a-half longer than the state-winning throw."
The finish in the shot put might have been a disappointment, but Cooper said he was surprised with Critell's other contributions. The Lions senior was named to the SCISA All-State team after finishing fourth in the long jump and running as part of the Lions' third-place 4x100 team.
"Overall, I was pleased," Cooper said. "He didn't get first-place points (in the shot put), but then he ended up getting points in other events that I wasn't expecting."
Critell didn't compete in the long jump for much of his senior season. Cooper said part of the reason was Critell's extra bulk from football. But when he asked Critell before a meet late in the season to skip the 100-meter dash and compete in long jump, Critell responded with a victory.
"He was just a great leader on the track," Cooper said. "Practices, I could go and expect him to coach some of the younger kids. I wouldn't have to worry about what he was doing. He was going to be getting work done."
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