Iowa State Throwers Ready to Take the Next Step
AMES, Iowa - Iowa State throws coach Grant Wall is looking for an encore performance from his Cyclone pupils in 2013. When you consider the success his group achieved in 2012, that is saying a lot. The success of his throwers after last season's collegiate season kept Wall very busy, traveling to the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., for the USATF Olympic Trials and the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Barcelona, Spain. But Wall believes in his Cyclones, and they have embraced his training regimen. Bigger things are ahead.
"The weight room is a huge thing for us," Wall said. "We try to maximize our strength in the weight room, and we throw heavy quite a bit. Our athletes are working hard, and I think that is going to pay off with continued personal improvement this season."
There was certainly major improvement last season. Throwers Danielle Frere and Christina Hillman both competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the shot put. Hillman won the U.S. Junior Championship and then hit an outdoor personal best of 53-10 ¼ to close out the 2012 campaign. She was fourth in the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain. Hillman redshirted the 2012 collegiate outdoor season but made an astonishing 14-foot improvement from the beginning to the end of last season.
"(Hillman's) improvement over the last year and a half since February (2011) and high school when she won (the national high school championship) has just been unbelievable," Wall said. "A 14-foot improvement is remarkable."
Her performance has been so impressive that Wall has shelved a move to have her redshirt indoors. He's looking for conference points indoors from his sophomore.
"Christina has been doing a great job this fall understanding the strength aspect and just the longevity of training," Wall said. "Coming in from high school she was used to a three-month training period. We want her to make the U.S. Indoor Championships this winter. Our goal for her outdoors is to make the national meet and make the U.S. championships this summer in Des Moines."
The backbone of the Cyclone women's throwing corps is the fifth-year senior duo of Frere and Laishema Hampton. Both are nationally touted performers. At the 2012 U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships, Frere was fifth in the shot put and eighth in the 35-pound weight throw. Hampton was sixth in the weight throw.
Outdoors, Frere was fourth in the shot put at the Big 12 meet and an NCAA qualifier. In the Big 12 hammer, Hampton, Frere and Hayli Bozarth finished third through fifth, respectively. Hampton threw a personal best of 197-01 in that competition. According to Wall, Hampton and Frere have each found their niche.
"They came in together and it seems like they have been here forever," Wall said. "The funny thing about Shema is that as a freshman she was the No. 2 in the U.S. and made the Pan-Am team in the shot, and we don't throw the shot anymore. She is a weight and hammer girl. For her it's about winning the conference in the weight and the hammer. Making the U.S. indoor and the U.S. outdoor championships is another goal."
Frere has taken on a far-sighted training program.
"'D' has made a conscious decision to see how long she can train as a shot putter," Wall said. "She is a great hammer thrower also, but made that switch to the shot put in her head. She has just taken it to the next level this year after making it to the Olympic Trials during the summer. For her NCAA and USA Championships indoors and outdoors will be a major focus."
Bozarth has been a steady performer. She placed fifth in the shot put indoors and seventh in the event outdoors. She was an NCAA Championships qualifier.
"Hayli has just been consistent," Wall said. "She has progressed 2 1/2 feet every year in the shot. She has improved seven feet since high school. There is a lot of potential there. She made night-and-day improvement in the hammer."
Former Nebraska prep discus champion Tressa Borchardt was 15th at the Big 12 indoor meet in the discus.
"Tressa has had a long hard road with back issues the first two years, so last year was her first year with consistent training," Wall said. "This summer she took off in everything and we have really high hopes for her. I think she can just come out of nowhere."
There are upward bound newcomers. Cyclone Ashley Thooft of St. Clair, Minn., won a pair of Minnesota prep shot put titles and also threw well in the discus.
"Ashley reminds me a lot of Tina (Hillman) coming in," Wall said. "She has a lot of room for improvement in strength and she has really bought in right from the start. She was a U.S. junior qualifier. It was her first time really being in that environment which was a great experience. She is 6 foot 3 ½ and is probably going to be 6 foot 4 ½ once everything is done. Discus is probably going to be her best event, but she should be a 50-foot shot putter and should be a 160-foot discus thrower."
Multi-event performer Kayla Sanborn will concentrate on the throwing events this season.
"Kayla was in the multis last year and hurt her ankle and wasn't able to run without pain," Wall said. "She is tall and very athletic, and I gave her the option to try the hammer and she has picked it up very quick. I could see her being a regional qualifier this year."
Zack Richards leads the men's throwing contingent. Richards wants to make a national splash in the hammer throw this season.
"He got second in the conference last year in the hammer and was a regional qualifier," Wall said. "Our goal this year is to be national qualifier and All-American in the hammer. It has taken him five years of really hard work to get where he is. I think he was third out of high school in the nation. Our goal is to get him close to that mark (226-0)."
The most touted men's newcomer is shot putter Jan Jeuschede. The freshman made Germany's world junior team last season.
"He is a good athlete," Wall said. "He threw the 13.2 pound shot compared to the high school shot in the U.S., which is 12 pounds. He threw it 62 feet 1 inch which equates to about 65-66 foot throw for a high schooler."
Wall has high hope for his new protégé.
"I think he can be a top five guy in the conference," Wall said. "He has never had a very strength-oriented program, but is really gravitating to it quickly, both in the weight room and the using the heavy shots that we're throwing in training. I think he can be a borderline guy for the NCAA meet indoors and in my opinion I think he'll be able to make the national meet outdoors as a freshman."
Sophomore Henry Kelley has made an impression on Wall.
"Henry worked his butt off the last three years," Wall said. "I think he is ready to be a top ten guy at the conference in the discus. He has really come a long way with that implement. I think he could be top ten in the conference in the hammer also."
With success comes heightened expectations. You can bet the Wall and his throwers will take each performance in stride.