A Grand Island Walnut Middle School student has proven he stacks–up well against the competition when it comes to "sport stacking." News 5's Dennis Kellogg has the story of this quick–handed 14–year–old as we spend "A Day in the Heartland."
8th grader Austin Ryan is going back to Newell Elementary School. He used to walk these halls and eat in this cafeteria. He is returning to show the students something he learned here in addition to math and science. He is coming back as a champion sport stacker.
"The first time I ever did cup stacking it was in the gym in P.E.," said Newell.
Austin was not exactly sold on the idea at first.
"I was kind of skeptical. I mean, it sounded kind of boring, but once you get into it, it gets really addicting," Newell said.
The idea is take specially–designed cups and stack them in certain ways as quickly as possible.
"There are three different kinds of stacks. The 3–3–3, the 3–6–3 and the cycle stack," said Newell. "This is the 3–3–3. You up–stack like this and then you go back to the beginning and you down–stack them. And then you put your hand back on the timer."
Austin has done all of that in 1.84...seconds. That is his record, but he wants to break it.
"Yeah, you can get better. Even the fastest people in the world are still getting better," said Newell.
Austin practices one to two hours a day.
"It helps with eye–hand coordination a lot and ambidexterity and those things," Newell said.
Sometimes he practices with friends. They train together on double–stacking and relay stacking. Other times, he challenges his mom and dad.
"Sometimes I stack with them. It is hard because they are a lot slower [laughs]," said Newell.
Austin even has created his own YouTube sport–stacking channel.
"I record myself and every time I get a new record or I get a new time or something, I upload it to there," said Newell.
This has developed into more than just a hobby for Austin. He is a real competitor. And he has got the medals from the world championships to prove it.
"It was nerve–racking. I started shaking a lot because you only get three tries for each stack," said Newell.
There is a lot of pressure.
The world championships attract accomplished sport stackers from across the globe. Austin proved he belonged with the best, finishing fourth in a relay event, and ninth individually in the 3–3–3 competition in the 14–year–old division.
"It feels really good. It gives you a cool feeling inside to know that I am faster than everybody, a lot of people," said Newell.
The world championships also enabled Austin to meet new friends from across the world – all with one thing in common – a love for stacking cups really fast. He knows sport–stacking may not be for everyone his age.
"Some think it is nerdy. Some think it is dumb, but when they see it, they think differently about it," said Newell. "It is just like a "wow" thing. They just go (opens eyes wide) eyes wide open."
Which is just how the students at Austin's old elementary school looked as they watched him. They got to see one of their own on the "fast–stack" to success.
Austin said his mom and dad have been very supportive of his speed–stacking, taking him to tournaments. He is planning to compete in another one in Iowa this July.
Originally aired May 4th, 2010