Iowa thrower finds way to express himself

BY TORK MASON | MARCH 08, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowa freshman Gabe Hull was shy before he started throwing shot put and discus.

Throwing gave him the opportunity to show people who he was — but he wouldn't have picked up the sport at all without prodding from his younger sister, Michaela.

"In eighth grade, she dragged me out onto the track team," he said. "I didn't want to run, so I figured I'd pick up this little metal ball and see how far I could throw it."

He said he was uneasy when he first joined his middle-school team.

"I wasn't sure what I was going to do," he said. "I was just going to try it out and see what it was going to be like. When I knew I had the chance not to run, I liked it a lot better and stuck with it."

Michaela Hull tells a slightly different story.

"When I went out seventh grade year, he just kind of came along with me," she said.

She said things seemed to come naturally for her older brother, and his success on the team was beneficial for him outside the world of throwing.

"It's something he really excelled at from the beginning, so I think it's given him hope in other areas — to know that he can do well and succeed," she said.

Michaela Hull said the difference between her brother's personality on the field and off it was obvious.

"Outside of track, he was always really shy and not very talkative," she said. "But when it came to track, he knew he was the big guy on campus. He was really outgoing, always talking to people. It was his comfort area."

The decision seems to have paid off for the Bloomington, Ind., native; he qualified for the Indiana high-school state championships three times, won the 19-and-under national championship, and claimed the silver medal at the Junior Pan American Games this past July.

The road wasn't always smooth, though.

"Back in high school, I had some rough times throwing where it just didn't click" he said. "It seemed like I was just stuck at a certain distance and couldn't throw it any further. It seemed like I was falling behind the pack, but I was able to work through it with the help of my coaches and by putting in the repetitions."

Iowa throwing coach Scott Cappos — an Indiana alum who was a key factor in Hull's decision to sign with the Hawkeyes — said the freshman's attitude is a big reason he expects great things from his prodigy.

"One of the things that's going to make Gabe a great thrower here is his intensity level," Cappos said. "He wants to be great, and he's got the high intensity level in training that we like to see. He's even helping the older throwers with his intensity."

Cappos said he wants a balance of high-intensity athletes and those who are more laid-back and focused on their technique.

"Sometimes we have to back him down a little bit to really focus on the technical aspects of the throws," he said. "He's always looking for feedback on his technique, but I also know when he's ready to throw far, he'll bring the intensity.

"… He's a difference-maker."

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