FAIRFIELD — Alex Higgins stands 6 feet tall and weighs over 200 pounds, but it’s a quarter of an inch that keeps the Lawrence High School senior awake at night.

Entering this weekend’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference indoor track and field championships, Higgins is the meet’s No. 1 seed in the boys shot put event. His top throw to date this season is 46 feet, 11 3/4 inches.

“It really is driving me nuts,” said Higgins, who extended his personal best by nearly 4 feet this season. “These past two weeks, I’ve pulled a lot together, so hopefully I can get to 47. I know I have more than that in me.”

Lawrence’s Isaac Plourde, left, and Alex Higgins, throw the shot put for the Bulldogs.

Ironically, Higgins thought he would be a basketball player at Lawrence, but it was a well-intentioned coach that steered him away from the hardwood.

“It was my freshman basketball coach,” Higgins laughed Tuesday following a rare practice outdoors, in unseasonably warm sunshine. “He was like, ‘Who don’t you try shot put?’ because I always shot the basketball too hard when I’d shoot. I wasn’t going to make the team, obviously. He said if I was looking for something to do to stay in shape I should try indoor track.”

That’s been the indoor track team’s gain since. Higgins, who has been a captain since his sophomore year, has competed both indoor and outdoor for the Bulldogs.

Higgins joins junior Isaac Plourde and freshman Gage Boudreau to form the most formidable arm of the Bulldogs’ track and field team. Plourde’s best heave of 44-3 1/2 seeds him second in the KVAC, while Boudreau checks in as the fifth seed heading into the conference meet.

The KVAC meet will be — at least Lawrence throwing coach T.J. Hebert hopes — just a stepping stone for both Higgins and Plourde. They rank second and fourth overall in the state, respectively.

Lawrence senior shot put thrower Alex Higgins practices in the storage closet Wednesday at Lawrence High School in Fairfield.

“They really feed off each other, and you can see it,” Hebert said. “We went to a meet at USM in mid-January, and you could see the adrenaline they were getting from one another. It’s important for them to get each other going.”

Thornton’s Jason Montano is the top shot putter in the state with a best throw of 62-1 this season. Higgins could make up that type of distance over the course of the championship season — with the regional and state title meets following this weekend’s conference meet — to land the best throw in Maine this indoor season.

“That’s not unheard of, to make that kind of a jump,” Hebert said.

But Higgins’ goal is simply to be a state champion, and right now he’s the best in Class B in the state.

“It’s my senior year, so I’d absolutely love to place first,” Higgins said. “If I could go to New Englands, that would be really exciting.

“When I’m competing, I want to do my best. Every meet is a big meet to me. Honestly, I like to win.”

Even in an individual sport like track and field, Higgins and Plourde both say they’ve found as much success as they’ve had because of one another.

“It encourages me to do better,” said Plourde, who has been throwing since middle school. “I try my hardest to throw further than Alex, and I’m sure Gage tries to throw further than both of us, too.”

Lawrence junior shot put thrower Isaac Polurde practices in the storage closet Wednesday at Lawrence High School in Fairfield.

As a team, the Lawrence boys don’t stand much of a chance at winning team titles this season. Too thin numbers-wise — there are only 16 boys on the roster this winter — to cover all of the events adequately, the throwers have accumulated significant portions of the Bulldogs’ overall point totals during the regular-season meets.

Having a smaller roster, Lawrence head coach Tim Alberts said, is part of what makes what Higgins, Plourde and Boudreau are doing so impressive.

“They’re just tough, good kids. The improvement I’ve seen in them is amazing,” Alberts said. “They’re obviously incredibly self-motivated. But I’ve been coaching indoors for 17 years and outdoors for 30, and I’ve always said that if you have a fellow competitor that’s at the same level where you are, it’s going to make you better. (Higgins and Plourde) have proven it.”

Higgins embraces the role as the group’s leader, both literally and figuratively.

“I’ve been doing this for four years now, so if I’m able to help someone out to make them throw that extra 4 inches, then that’s great,” Higgins said. “But I think we also push each other to do better. Isaac and I are always going back and forth, just seeing who can throw the furthest. There’s a lot of competitiveness even within the team, and I think that’s great.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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