Throwers ready for a new season

BY BEN SCHUFF | MARCH 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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Dreary, gray skies, wind, and on-and-off drizzle greeted hammer and discus throwers for the Iowa men’s track and field team at the Cretzmeyer Track during Wednesday’s practice. As the group works through its first week of outdoor practice, the conditions were symbolic of the throwers’ 2010 outdoor campaign.

The hammer and discus throwers had their share of ups and downs last year, with seemingly more of the latter.

Nick Brayton was the only athlete in the two events to score points for the team at the 2010 outdoor Big Ten championships; he placed seventh in the discus.

The junior spent last season recovering from elbow surgery he had in February 2010. He couldn’t throw for roughly a month following the surgery and he didn’t pick up a discus until a week before the start of the outdoor season.

“I had some injuries early in the year that kind of held me back,” said Brayton, whose seventh-place finish scored 2 points at the Big Ten meet. “At the Big Tens, I started to figure it out … a little too late.”

Brayton didn’t throw anything during this past indoor season, focusing instead on preparation for what lies ahead and what he hopes is a top finish at Big Tens this year.

This kind of thinking is permeating through the rest of the throwers in the hammer and discus events, as well as throws coach Scott Cappos.

He believes Brayton and fellow juniors — discus thrower Ryan Lamparek and hammer thrower Matt Banse — are primed for breakout years.

“We really start to have high expectations of our athletes in our program their junior year,” Cappos said. “We expect them to take that big jump their junior year.”

After placing fifth at the Big Ten meet his freshman year, Lamparek opened the 2010 outdoor season with a career-best discus throw of 52.19 meters at Auburn.

But he finished 16th in the discus at the Big Ten meet last year. Weather similar to Wednesday’s was a factor in his poor showing. Rain fell during his flight and affected his results. His throw of 47.25 meters was, and still is, the shortest of his Hawkeye career.

“That’s the only meet that matters,” he said about his poor performance at the conference meet. “It’s definitely something I’m going to focus on this season is to throw far at the Big Ten meet.”

Banse’s hammer performance mirrored that of Lamparek’s. Banse threw a career-best 60.66 meters at the second meet of the 2010 outdoor season. His performance at the Big Ten meet at the end of the year, however, wasn’t as stellar — he placed 11th.

“I don’t know [what happened]. He threw like [crap],” Cappos said. “If you have a bad day, there is not a lot of room for error in the Big Ten. You need to be on the day of the competition.”

Banse showed his potential, though, when he beat the Big Ten hammer champion at the following meet, the NCAA West Regional.

Cappos took some of the blame for his athletes’ disappointing finishes at last year’s Big Tens. Cappos had his athletes back off in the weight room several weeks prior to the meet to work on their speed.

This year, he said, things will change, and they will work with a heavier load in the weight room before the major championships.

Also in the mix for the hammer throw is sophomore Ben Stancombe. Similar to Brayton, Stancombe had surgery on his throwing shoulder in December 2009.

He said he feels “10 times more prepared” for this outdoor season.

“Just through the first couple practices this year, I feel a lot better than what I did at the end of last year,” Stancombe said. “I think [this season] will be totally different from last year.”

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