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More than mere tossing

BY JORDAN HANSEN | APRIL 01, 2014 5:00 AM

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For the throwers on the men’s track team, technique and how they approach their craft will do a lot to determine how this season goes for both them and the team as a whole.

Last week’s Arizona State Invitational served as a marker for how the team sees itself just a week into the outdoor season. The team finished second in the meet, and despite a strong showing from throwers in numerous events, the squad still feels it needs to improve to continue to be competitive.

“Right now, we’re not quite where we want to be as a team, but we’ve taken steps in the right direction,” junior Sam Joens said. “We didn’t see quite what we wanted to see, but we did see good signs, and hopefully, we can build on that.”

Part of the problem for the team was the lack of practicing outdoors, which is vital for the Hawkeyes to get the reps and actual experience that they require. This is especially true for the throwers, who require space and actual grass or an artificial similarity to be able to throw a javelin or discus.

To put it simply, throwing is about more than just brute strength.

“Ninety percent of throwing is technique and how you approach your technique,” Joens said.

“Obviously, if you’re a big guy and know the basics, you can just heave it, but there’s only so far you can do that.”

While throwing heavy objects does require extensive body control and the use of momentum, time spent in the weight room, developing the body, is also a key to a solid throw. In addition, the mental aspect also plays a large role in the process.

“Being a thrower, you need both a mental and physical toughness and need to be working hard all the time,” junior Gabe Hull said. “I go over my technique several times in my head before I throw and even in the weight room, you have to psych yourself up, so it’s mental there, too.”

A solid work ethic in all aspects of throwing is an important part of assistant coach Scott Cappos’s philosophy. For him, technique is a vital part of throwing, but he also believes in a strong sense of self-efficacy.

“Doing all the work and everything while you’re here, that doesn’t make you anything special,” Capps said. “It’s things like watching film on their own, eating right, sleeping right that separate people.

“You have to have dedication if you’re going to be successful at the collegiate level.”

That dedication has translated itself into several goals for the team this year, ranging from scoring in the Big Ten to qualifying for the NCAAs, depending on which athlete or coach is asked.

“We’ve got five throwers, the smallest group I’ve been a part of since I joined the track team, but the five guys have heart and are really working hard,” Hull said. “The younger ones coming up taking the place of two guys that are graduating are doing well too.”


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