Fort Mill Times

Tega Cay boys set records in sport stacking

Brothers Josh (left) and Zach Hainsel work together to stack cups as quickly as possible at their Tega Cay home. The tandem are the South Carolina sport stacking state champions for 10-and-under doubles teams.
Brothers Josh (left) and Zach Hainsel work together to stack cups as quickly as possible at their Tega Cay home. The tandem are the South Carolina sport stacking state champions for 10-and-under doubles teams.

Josh and Zach Hainsel know how to stack cups - fast.

Unfortunately for their mother, it's usually not when they are doing the dishes.

The brothers, who just finished third and fifth grade at Gold Hill Elementary School, have become involved in an unusual, but quickly growing activity called sport stacking.

"I saw a commercial on TV three years ago and I was really impressed," Josh said. "I have a DVD that explains how to do it...I learned it myself."

Sport stacking is a sport in which competitors are timed and the object is to stack sets of 12 cups in various orders and formations, usually in stacks of three, six or 10, forming pyramids, then take them back down. The cups are small, probably only large enough to hold eight or 10 ounces of liquid if filled and the hands that move them become a blur as cups are rearranged into multiple stacks in as little as two or three seconds.

"You just have to start out slow and make sure you can do it without being sloppy - make sure you can do it right," said Zach, who started catching onto his younger brother's hobby this past year.

And together, they make quite a team.

The brothers currently hold the South Carolina state record for a two-person team, age 10 and under.

Standing side-by-side, each using one hand, they completed "the cycle" in 11.52 seconds to set the record. The cycle is an event in which competitors take the 12 cups, stack them in arrangements of three, six and three, then two stacks of six, then a stack of 10 with one cup on either side, before taking them back down.

"I think we have an advantage since I am left-handed," Zach said. "Since you need a right and a left hand to do the doubles cycle."

Josh didn't stop with only one record.

In an April stacking tournament in Beaufort, Josh became the S.C. state record holder for 8-year-olds in three major events, setting the top mark in the 3-3-3 formation - 2.68 seconds; the 3-6-3 formation - 3.40 seconds; and the individual cycle in 9.33 seconds.

"I want to set the world record in the cycle," Josh said. "And I would like to be on the U.S. team. I think it would be fun to work with other people who are as good."

The world record Josh is chasing was set last year by an 11-year-old from Massachusetts named Stephen Purugganan, who completed the cycle in 5.93 seconds.

Although the family has discovered tournaments in the Charlotte area and lower S.C., finding other sport stackers nearby who are interested in the sport is still a challenge.

"We would love to get involved with other people who do it, make it more of a social thing," said Josh and Zach's mother, Andrea. "I think it would be great to set something up for kids with similar interests - to go to tournaments together or set up relay teams."

The brothers have taken their cup sets to school to try and spread the sport to other students, and some have taken an interest, Zach said.

"Some of them are pretty takes a lot of practice," he said.

Josh has a knack for unusual talents. His second hobby is solving Rubik's cubes; he has more than 35 different types and he is often very dedicated to working on those, as well as stacking. While Josh spends lots of time practicing, sometimes hours a day, his parents said they were surprised by how fast he got.

"At first we didn't know what to expect. We knew he was good, but we didn't know how good," Andrea said. "We didn't even know if he was doing it legally, since he taught himself, but we are really proud of both of them. Setting state records is pretty impressive.

Their father Bryan said he might even try his hand at stacking, since there are adult competitions as well.

"Since I'm there, I might as well compete," he said.

"I think it's great that they can perform in front of people. It shows confidence. Hopefully they will continue that - transfer it to bigger and better things in life."