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Hawkeye thrower takes long road to success

BY ELDON GIANNAKOUROS | FEBRUARY 08, 2012 7:20 AM

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Matt Banse surprised his coaches, teammates, and opponents last year when he finished fourth at the Big Ten outdoor championships — his first scoring place in a major meet.

But the athlete from Strawberry Point, Iowa, didn't share their astonishment.

"It was nothing I didn't know I could do," he said.

Banse has kept up his impressive run this season; he collected two first-place titles in this season's first five meets.

Assistant Coach Scott Cappos coached both Banse and his older brother, Andy Banse, during their stays at Iowa. He said he sees similarities in their steady rises in talent and emphasis on work ethic. Both had uneventful early careers, but years of work started to show in their competition throws.

"They were both what I would consider late bloomers; his brother Andy didn't score a point in the Big Ten championship until he was a senior [in 2005], and Matt scored last year as a junior — getting fourth in the hammer," Cappos said. "They're both terrific workers, they're both dedicated; they both understand the concept of hard work. It's just a family trait."

Andy Banse tossed the third-best shot-put distance in Iowa history in 2005. Matt Banse's second-place finish at the New Balance Invitational in New York City last weekend included Iowa's fourth-best all-time throw.

"I knew going in that I was one of the best competitors there and that I was in the final flight," he said. "I knew if I threw what I was able to, I'd be in the mix for the championship."

Nick Brayton, Banse's roommate and fellow thrower, has known him since his days in Strawberry Point. The two athletes met in competition, and Brayton saw Banse's potential.

"He's always had that farm-boy strength ever since I've known him," Brayton said. "He's waited his turn, worked his butt off, and it's finally starting to show on paper."

Banse's performance was made possible by a shift in attitude. He said he exercised caution in the past, sacrificing distance to ensure his throws would stay inbounds.

"I've become much more mature since last year," he said. "I've changed the way I compete; I'm not as cautious, because caution only gets you so far, and it's not the way you score in the Big Ten."

Banse took some fouls in New York, but the best official throw of his career landed inbounds. Even the throws he missed showed how talented he's capable of being.

"I know there's a lot more in the tank," he said. "I had a foul that would have been a much bigger [personal record], but it was out of bounds by 6 inches."

The Hawkeye weightmen had a weak outing at the Big Ten indoors last season, scoring no points at the event. If they're going to change that, it will likely be because Banse stepped into the circle and threw caution to the wind.

"He's one of the guys who needs to step up and get that journey started for the weights," Cappos said. "… He's been a great leader for our program. I've seen this breakthrough coming for him the last couple of weeks in training; that's kind of what we work toward. We do a lot of hard work, and he's started to reap some of the benefits of his hard work over the last four years."


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