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Throwing his weight around

BY MATT SCHOMMER | FEBRUARY 17, 2010 7:30 AM

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Men’s track and field head coach Larry Wieczorek let Scott Cappos slip through his fingers once before.

He wasn’t going to let that happen again.

Wieczorek initially recruited Cappos out of high school, then eventually chose to pursue a more highly regarded athlete instead.

“That was a big mistake,” the 23-year head coach said. “[Cappos] ended up going to Indiana and becoming an All-American.”

Wieczorek said he likes to right the wrongs in his life, and when the opportunity came around again to get Cappos — this time as a coach — he didn’t hesitate.

Wieczorek, who mainly serves as Iowa’s track coach, was forced to also become the throwing coach when he arrived at Iowa, and he had some mixed results.

When Cappos, then coaching at Western Michigan became available, Wieczorek knew it was the right fit.

“Throwing was something I wanted to design the program around,” Wieczorek said. “And now he’s built Iowa’s into a really great one.”

Cappos came to Iowa in 1997, and he has produced 17 All-Americans, 20 Big Ten champions, and a respected and feared program.

“When I first got here, I had already had a little coaching experience,” he said. “But at Iowa, I did a lot of research and brought in some recruits who had success right away. It’s kind of snowballed from there.”

Cappos’ own athletics success as a thrower, coupled with his high-school and college coaches’ training, has put him on the fast track to success in the Big Ten.

But it’s not just on-field results that matter to him.

“One of the things I really preach is to get a meaningful degree from the University of Iowa,” he said.

“You need to work hard and do it the right way. Patience is a big thing, too. I tell the kids that it’s a long journey to success.”

One of those kids, sophomore Matt Banse, has taken to his coach’s philosophy since he came into the program.

Banse’s older brother went through the program and threw for Cappos — a big reason Banse committed to Iowa — and the budding Hawkeye said he has really enjoyed throwing for the coach because he brings so much knowledge to the table.

“He wants us to do well in the classroom,” Banse said. “If we are struggling in the classroom and need a day off to study, he’ll let us skip practice. That, along with a laid-back atmosphere in practice, has really helped us succeed.”

Now, with the men’s program stabilized and strong, Cappos gets to take on another daunting task — building up the women’s program from scratch.

However, he is excited about the challenge and believes, along with Wieczorek, the women can achieve the same success as the men somewhere down the road.

The future for the throwing program seems to be secure, despite Cappos having been presented with other coaching job opportunities.

“I’ve been offered other higher paying jobs in the Pac-10 and the SEC,” he said. “And it’s flattering, but I really see no reason to leave Iowa. I’d stay forever if they let me.”


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