Mike Quesenberry is big.
As in 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, fill-up-a-room big.
He can dominate a room physically and vocally.
“I’m loud,” admitted the gregarious Quesenberry before practice earlier this week. “I like to have a little fun.”
Fun comes during an animated discussion during class or leading the cheers during the basketball season.
His fun this spring comes from tossing the shot put and throwing the discus.
And to have success in the latter, he’s displaying something that belies his personality:
Quesenberry, a senior for Billings West, has the top shot put effort among Class AA competitors this year, and second overall in the state to Chris Emter of Livingston. Quesenberry is also just outside the state’s top 10 in the discus.
“I want to win both the shot put and discus this year,” he said of his goals. “It’s about peaking at the right moment.”
Which he knows has yet to happen.
His best shot put toss this year is 53 feet, 10 inches at the Billings Public Schools meet, three feet off his mark of 56-10 ½ from last year’s Class AA state meet where he placed third.
He’s consistently been better than 50 feet this year, also going 52-8 at the Border Wars meet against Wyoming schools.
And while others might be, Quesenberry is not worried.
“You’ve got to take a step back to take a step forward,” he explained.
It’s why Quesenberry can be found in the shot put ring long after everybody else is done with practice.
“I’ll stay and put in 20 to 30 extra throws after everybody else has left,” he said. “Out of the four sports I did in high school (track, football, wrestling, basketball) this is definitely the most frustrating at times.
“So many tiny things need to go well to be successful … so many. But when you hit one, hit a good throw, it’s all worth it. It’s 100 percent a feeling. You know when you hit a huge throw.”
Quesenberry is building himself from the ground up — “Let the legs do the work,” — and hopes to have a complete package ready by the state meet at the end of May in Great Falls.
“I’m taking a couple of steps back right now,” Quesenberry said. “The last three years, I’m understanding that you have to be patient. You’re looking for that one thing that changes a throw.”
Along with chasing state titles, Quesenberry is also pursuing something else: his older brother Brandon.
Brandon Quesenberry still owns the shot put record for the Bears, 62-3, set in 2007. He went on to play football and compete for the University of North Dakota track and field program.
“He’s my idol to make myself want to be better,” said Mike, the younger brother by six years. “I want to beat his records, but I know that is going to be tough. My first goal is to make myself better in the shot put and discus.”
And like his older brother, Quesenberry will also compete for UND next year. He committed to the Grand Forks, N.D., school earlier this year.
“I just liked the coaches and the guys on the team,” he said. “And they’re building a new indoor facility, that helped.”
And he’s not afraid of the North Dakota winters.
“I prefer the cold. Big guys can’t take layers off,” Quesenberry said with a smile that never leaves.
After competing in Casper, Wyo., on Saturday, Quesenberry and his teammates will have four more meets to tune up for state.
“That’s kind of scary but we still have time,” Quesenberry said. “All the work you’ve done, you hope to make it out with a state championship. When the time comes, you have to be ready to compete.
“It’ll come. And when it does, it will be exciting.”