UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Throwers look to rebound at Big Tens

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A year ago, UW men's track coach Ed Nuttycombe and women's coach Jim Stintzi were thrown for a loss when their "throwers''  fell short of expectations in the Big Ten outdoor championships.
Both are confident that Dan Block and Taylor Smith have learned something from that experience and will put their painfully acquired knowledge to good use this weekend in the field events.
"It's the proverbial saying,'' Nuttycombe said, "you learn more from trying situations - from tough situations - than you do from other situations. I think that's absolutely the case with Dan.
"It was very uncharacteristic of him to not perform at that big setting (fifth outdoors in the shot put). I don't think there's any way that he will let that happen again. He'll be ready.
"His co-hort in the discus - Alex Thompson - will be ready to go, too. He has really come along and he's a big-time meet type of guy who has done well at international junior settings.
"Hopefully, we'll get a Top Three or Top Four in each one of those events (shot put and discus). That will be a good day. Maybe one or the other does better, and we'll see a surprise in one, or both.''

Stintzi has outlined similar objectives for Taylor Smith and Kelsey Card in those events.   
"I think the last couple of Big Ten meets, we've had throwers that have put a little bit too much pressure on themselves,'' Stintzi said. "Our motto is, 'This meet is no different than any other meet.'
"We can't approach it like it's the end of the world.''
The results this spring have encouraged Stintzi. "One of the things we're seeing is steady improvements in the throws,'' he said. "We're hitting our peak at the right time.''
How might the throws factor into the team competition for the men and women?
"Big at this meet,'' Stintzi said. "As a matter of fact, you don't want to say one area is going to matter more than another - but for both of our teams, it's just the direction that we've gone.
"Throws matter a lot to us. Ironically, everyone in the Big Ten got this idea at the same time and everybody is good at the same time.''
Nuttycombe cited an example.
"If you look at the rankings,'' he said, "I think the Big Ten has the vast majority of the best throwers in the entire western region of the country in the discus. It's super competitive.''
UW assistant coach Dave Astrauskas has seen a developing trend in the talent pool from the standpoint "throwers from the Midwest used to go to the coast, now they're staying in the Big Ten.''

"Last year at the junior championships,'' he went on, "it was dominated by kids who were already in the Big Ten and going to the Big Ten. So it's only going to get better.''

What are Astrauskas' expectations for his throwers in the Big Ten meet?

"I'm just expecting them to do what they've been doing all year and that's to throw well and throw near their competitive average,'' he said. "That's all I'm asking of them.''

Nuttycombe figures if the Badgers can maintain their status quo that they will be in the hunt. "But we have to hit on the events that we're ranked high in,'' he said, "and hope that's enough.''

The shot put and discus would qualify in Nuttycombe's context.

"I think Dan Block is going to throw well in both,'' he said. "He's coming on at the right time.''

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