Smith saves best for last in NCAA indoor finale


Smith

March 8, 2013

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Taylor Smith’s final indoor competition in a Wisconsin uniform played out much like her career with the Badgers.

She just kept getting better and better.

Smith steadily marched through the field over the course of her six attempts in the women’s weight throw Friday at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships and emerged with a seventh-place finish and All-America honors after throwing 67 feet, 11 3/4 inches.

Indiana State’s Felisha Johnson won the national title at 77-2.

“I slowly progressed and then stepped it up a notch to snag seventh,” said Smith, whose career arc at Wisconsin was anything but a slow progression as she re-wrote the Badgers’ records in the weight throw over and over from her first days on campus.

Still, slow and steady won the day for Smith on Friday.

Her first attempt went 64-10 1/2. Her next traveled 65-3 1/2. Her final throw in the trials, at 66-8, put her over the 20-meter plateau and helped put her through to the final round.

“I knew coming in that it was going to be a tough competition because everyone was (seeded) so close together,” Smith said. “I was still nervous even though I’m a senior and I’ve been here a while.”

She fouled her first attempt of the final before hitting 67-4 to bump up her best mark in the competition by 20 centimeters. Smith then repeated that improvement on her final toss, raising her mark by another 20 centimeters with her 67-11 3/4 effort.

Smith carried plenty of momentum into her third-consecutive NCAA indoor championships appearance after placing third at the Big Ten championships two weeks ago behind a school-record throw of 70-6 1/2.

“I felt really good and really confident,” she said. “I knew it was going to be tough to get on the podium, but I pulled it off.”

In doing so, Smith added the distinction of being UW’s first All-American in the weight throw to her list of record-setting accomplishments and was able to cap her indoor career by carrying an NCAA trophy out of the Randal Tyson Track Center.

“I didn’t know that’s what you get,” Smith said of her award, smiling. “I got to go on the podium and my family was here, so it was great.”

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