SHARON — Auston Papay listened to the advice that his father, Al Papay, gave him when he was a senior at Sharon High several years ago, and the recommendation has reaped dividends for him in the world of major college track.
Auston, who was a three-year starter in football at Sharon as a defensive end and offensive guard under coaches Jim Wildman and Bo Reichert, and a four-year member of the Tigers’ track team as a weight thrower, was trying to decide in 2004 as a senior if he should continue competing in football or track in college.
“My dad played college football at Pitt. He recommended track might be a better way to go. It definitely is easier on the body,” said Auston, noting that his father, also a former Sharon High football lineman under coach Web Forsythe, was a freshman member of Pitt’s 1976 national-championship football team also as a lineman. “But he hurt his back as a sophomore and didn’t play anymore. He graduated in 1980.”
Auston has made the most of his father’s advice.
Now a junior weight thrower for the University of Akron track team, Papay is coming off a record-breaking year in 2007.
He set school records in both the outdoor discus and shot put and qualified for the NCAA Division I national outdoor meet in both events, after missing the indoor season with an ankle injury.
Both school records
thrown in MAC meet
Both of Papay’s marks came in the Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championships as he gained runner-up honors and earned All-MAC in both events.
He threw the shot put 60-8 3/4 to break his own school record by over a foot. He had set the record at the Drake Relays.
And he fired the discus 187-6 to snap his own record by 2 feet. He set the record last year.
Papay also placed eighth in the javelin in the MAC meet with 182-9 for second-best on the team this season behind Mike Wagner’s 185-3.
He also did well at the NCAA Mideast Regional by placing third in the discus (180-2) and 12th in the shot put (56-4 3/4), to qualify in both events for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
There, Papay placed 15th in the discus (182-3) in the preliminaries to improve 10 spots from last year, and just three spots shy of advancing to the final. And in his first national appearance in the shot put, he placed 24th (55-6 1/4).
But Papay’s senior year wasn’t the first or the last time that he listened to his father, who owns and operates a body shop in Brookfield called Al Papay Auto. Al served as Auston’s throwing coach in track at Sharon High, and still watches some of his son’s Akron meets and offers coaching tips.
“He helps out here and there [coaching me]. He offers his suggestions when he sees me [throwing] in my technique,” said Auston, who still lifts weights with his father in training sessions.
And Auston and Al also work together in Al’s business.
Papay hopes to win MAC championships and place higher nationally in the shot put and discus next year. He has two more indoor seasons left — he redshirted last indoor season because of a twisted ankle — and said he thinks he has room to improve.
Sees plenty of room
to throw longer distances
“There’s a ton of room for improvement,” he said. “From now on, I will focus on my technique on the discus and the shot put.”
Papay is an art education major with about a 3.0 grade-point average. Art education is a five-year program, and he probably won’t graduate until 2009. He’d like to get a teaching job in the Pittsburgh area and coach track.
In addition to Papay’s All-MAC honors this season, he was the 2006 MAC champion in the discus, 2005 MAC runner-up in the javelin, 2005 MAC runner-up in the outdoor shot and 2006 MAC third-place finisher in both indoor and outdoor shot put.
While at Sharon as a senior in 2004, Papay was the second-ranked indoor shot putter in the nation while also winning the PIAA shot put and discus championships and placing fourth in the javelin. He also was the PIAA indoor shot put champion, and won the Nike Indoor National Championships in the shot put.