Champions, real and imaginary, sometimes have a unique way of adding quirky training methods to their preparation for large scale competitions. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Wade Boggs was known for his hefty consumption of chicken. On screen, Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa became famous for drinking five raw eggs from a glass and beating sides of beef into submission.
Carlos Quijano, this year's Class 5 indoor shotput champion, may have drawn more of his inspiration from the latter. The senior from L.C. Bird may have been the most unlikely champion to emerge from the Boo Williams Sportsplex on Friday. After all, how many athletes can claim not to have practiced their craft for over half a year in preparation for their event at the state championship.
Quijano may be the first, at least the only one competing in Hampton on Friday.
"I didn't expect to win," said the amicable thrower, before offering the information about his lack of training. "I haven't trained for about seven or eight months. Just a handful of workouts." Enough to get him through two meets, the CNU Winter Frolic and Region 5B, and qualify for states with a throw of 47-5.25.
Adding to the subplot of the shocking win was the fact that another Carlos, Alexander from Hermitage High, was seeded first - with his 56-5 toss setting him eight feet ahead of the second ranked thrower and just about nine in front of Quijano, who started the day in the seventh slot.
In spite of appearances, Quijano had more than a Jim Carrey chance at doing well. Last winter, the Skyhawk had placed second in the Class 5 indoor shot, just five inches behind Garrett Dunn-Ford of Freedom-South Riding. And his best put of 53-10.25, third at last year's outdoor states, gave him at least an expectation of placing in the top three again.
If only he had trained.
Which gets back to the alternative method of preparation. As Quijano continued to explain how "less is more" when it comes to the pursuit of athletic excellence, he revealed the source of his inspiration.
"I've been working at UPS," admitted the first-time state champ. "Lifting heavy packages."
For 15-20 hours per week since last Christmas, Quijano has been a faithful employee of the United Parcel Service, lugging boxes around the warehouse before they get loaded on trucks toward their final destinations. It's not a method recommended in any "How To" throwing guide, but it's going to have to work for now. As he said, "life gets in the way," and for that reason, UPS will continue to play an important part of his. The company will pay for 95 percent of his junior college tuition at John Tyler CC for two years before he heads to Virginia Commonwealth University to earn his bachelor's degree in nursing, and possibly throw.
There will be no outdoor shot crown for Quijano as Bird's graduation falls on the same day he would be competing. With a best discus throw of 148-1 to his credit, Quijano will be the fourth best returnee in Class 5 this coming spring. The first? Alexander at 170-5 which was good for last spring's Class 5 state championship.
Could a repeat upset be in the cards? Even Rocky only beat each of his foes - Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago - once. If Quijano performs the feat, and pulls a second gold, he may be the first to claim that he won it one box at a time.