April 17, 2008

Throwers Excel for Track

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Simply put: the track throwers have been lights-out for the past few weeks.
Last weekend at Bucknell, senior Erik Roneker won both the hammer (183-3) and the shot put (55-1/4) for IC4A qualifiers, while junior Maria Matos dominated in the discus with a first-place, NCAA Regional qualifying performance in the discus (163-10). At the Penn Invitational the week before, the women placed athletes at the top of the standings in the shot put, discus and javelin. The men saw sophomore thrower Scott Jaffee score his first IC4A qualifier in the discus (162-11).
So what’s their secret?
[img_assist|nid=29954|title=Making a dent in the competition|desc=Junior Maria Matos had a first-place NCAA Regional qualifying performance in discus last week.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Workouts really differ depending on what event you’re doing,” said freshman javelin-thrower Clarence “Mac” Bishop. “Our main focus right now is improving our footwork and form. Usually, I do lower-body workouts on the days that I throw and upper-body workouts on the days I don’t.”
Even though workouts vary from thrower to thrower, the basic concept stays the same: get as strong and fast as you can throughout the season by combining throwing and weight-training regimens in practices during the week.
“We’re doing this workout now called the Russian Strength-Cycle,” said senior thrower Crystal Thomas. “Basically, it’s a lot of weight with a few reps. Typically, you start out at the beginning of the season maxing out on exercises like the power clean, snatch, deadlift, etc. At the beginning, you might start out at 80 percent, but over time, you get up to 90 percent as the season progresses.”
As the team goes deeper into the 2008 spring outdoor campaign, it is starting to benefit from something that doesn’t grace Ithaca very often — good weather. With the recent wave of sunny days, the throwers have been able to put their skills to use on the grass and get some experience throwing outside to supplement their weekday practices.
“We usually try to get out and throw two times a week,” Thomas said. “Especially now since the weather has been amazing, it’s great for us throwers because we’re actually able to go outside to get some throws in — usually Ithaca weather isn’t that great.”
Since all of the athletes are divided in practice into their respective events, the throwers are able to get to know all of the athletes in their own event — no matter the age or experience level.
“Honestly, track doesn’t really divide up the athletes by age,” Thomas said. “You are more labeled for the event you’re responsible for — you’re a thrower, a runner, a jumper — there’s not a ‘I’m a senior, and you’re a freshman’ dynamic going on. We’re more just divided by our events.”
“There are not many older javelin throwers on team right now,” Bishop said. “The upperclassmen on the track team are a great bunch of guys though — they’re always cracking jokes. They really take the stress off and help us to get through practices.”
Aside from making lifting weights and going to practice a good time, seniors also have the responsibility to make sure that younger athletes are getting as much out of their workouts as they’re putting in. With proper technique, weightlifting is a key component of any thrower’s workout. However, many of the younger athletes are still trying to acclimate to the intense workouts for a college team — they are still trying to learn the ropes of effective weight-training. That’s where the older athletes come in.
“As a senior, the big thing is helping the younger athletes getting through weight workouts,” Thomas said. “A lot of times, these kids are coming right out of high school. They’ve never done these Olympic lifts before, so we need to make sure we help them out.”