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Iowa javelin throwers getting the point

BY MATT SCHOMMER | APRIL 06, 2010 7:30 AM

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It was the first time Matt Byers competed for the Hawkeyes.

He picked up his javelin and hurled it 222 feet, the third-best mark in Iowa history.

Not bad for a début. Not bad for a freshman.

Byers, who hails from Wichita, Kan., was what coaches call a “super recruit.” The 222-foot toss was a personal best for him by more than 3 feet.

The blue chipper had plenty of chances to throw elsewhere around the country, but the allure of Iowa was too strong to pass up.

“It was my first official visit, and I came here and met the throwers and team,” he said. “The team is like a family. Everyone looks out for each other, and with coach [Scott] Cappos being a great coach, a well-known coach throughout the country, I kind of just fell in love with Iowa.”

But Byers recognizes one more important facet of his athletics success — teammate and senior Zach Schimp. Byers said Schimp and the role he has played has been crucial to the youngster’s development.

“He’s kind of like an older brother for me and looks out for me,” Byers said. “He’s helped me out so much with the javelin. Coach has kind of let me go under his wing. He knows everything about the technique and stuff.”

Schimp, originally from Marietta, Pa., is the senior leader on the javelin team, and the work he has done with Byers has benefited his own abilities.

“We are both very competitive, but when it comes to throwing the javelin, we help each other succeed,” he said. “I’ll still help him do his best if I see him doing something wrong, even if it means he will throw farther than me.”

Schimp said the pair’s spirited nature has yet to get unpleasant, a good sign for the future of the event. Cappos has lauded Schimp for the work he has put in.

“Zach’s a great worker,” he said. “He does a lot of things for the whole team. He’s a leader on the track and really helped Matt develop. His experience and leadership are helping all the throwers.”

Iowa men’s track and field coach Larry Wieczorek has been a staunch supporter of the throwing program ever since he arrived at Iowa, and the javelin could prove to be a major cog in the track and field machine — especially at the Big Ten championships, which feature the javelin in the last event.

Cappos said he feels this will be a big advantage for the Hawkeyes.

“I think it’s nice to have some more ammunition on the last day,” he said “And we know if they perform well, we can get some big points on the last event of the day.”

Hopefully, that all-important meet will go on without any snags similar to last weekend’s Tiger Track Classic in Auburn, Ala.

Byers said the team’s javelins never made it to the meet — they were shipped to Cincinnati by mistake.

“I found out about it the day of the competition while I was eating breakfast,” he said. “I thought they were pulling an April Fool’s joke on me at first. I guess UPS must have messed up somehow, but you have to deal with whatever happens.”



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