Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Throwing Article

This is an article about Sarah Grimm, a Utah thrower.

Utah Utes track and field: Sarah Grimm throwing way to NCAAs
By Mike Sorensen

Deseret News

Published: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:43 a.m. MDT
SALT LAKE CITY — For someone who didn't even take up the sport until her senior year of high school, Sarah Grimm has come a long way as a hammer thrower.

Grimm will compete this week at the NCAA Regionals in Austin, Texas with hopes of qualifying for the NCAA championships the following week for the second straight year.

She has an excellent chance, ranking No. 4 in the country this year in an event that most people don't know the first thing about. If she finishes in the top 12, she'll move on to the national finals June 7-12 in Eugene, Ore.

"I think they're all pretty good," she says of her top competitors. "It's always hard to tell, but those who are mentally strong will do well, and I feel I've gotten more mentally strong this year."

Grimm didn't even start competing in the hammer until she was 17 years old, but thanks to hard work and good coaching, she could be a contender for a national title in the next couple of weeks.

At Jordan High School, Grimm was a javelin and discus thrower, finishing second in the state meet in the latter event. During her senior season she was working out one day with some friends, who urged her to try the hammer throw, which isn't a regular event in high school.

"They said, 'you should try it,' and I liked it," Grimm said.

So she headed down to Utah Valley University the next year and then transferred up to Utah in 2007. Since coming to Utah, she's improved dramatically, going from a throw of 150-4 in the '08 MWC Championships to a school-record best of 207-2 this year.

For those who have never watched track and field meet or not paid much attention, the hammer is the event where an athlete spins around several times on a small ring inside of a net before throwing, with both hands, a metal ball attached to a wire a couple of hundred feet onto the field. It apparently gets its name from old-time competitions when an actual sledge hammer was thrown.

While the men's hammer throw has been around for more than a century, the women's hammer throw wasn't included in the Olympics until 2000.

At 5-foot-10, Grimm isn't small, but by hammer-thrower standards she below average in her size.

"It's about technique, being able to relax and having good footwork," Grimm said. "Strength is certainly a factor, but not the main factor."

Longer arms are an advantage as is a strong core. Then there's quickness, of all things.

"Quickness is important — you need to be quick with your feet, going from heel to toe in the ring," she said. "It's how quick you can get your feet to go in the ring and get (the ball) to go in the correct orbit."

Grimm gives much of the credit to her success to assistant U. coach Tapio Kuusela, who is in his ninth season as the throws coach for the Utah track and field program. In his eight seasons, the native of Finland has produced three MWC champions, six national and 11 regional qualifiers, and his throwers have set 16 school records.

"The biggest thing is having a good coach," she says. "Coach Tapio adapts to whatever naturally fits your style."

"I'm very proud of Sara," Kuusela said. "We have systematically tried to improve as the season goes along and be ahead of last year's marks. We have gotten better at each meet, sometimes it doesn't show in the marks, but we have improved our technique and consistency."

As for this week, Grimm said she would love to finish in the top five, but as long as she makes the top 12 she'll be happy and try to make her mark at nationals.

e-mail: sor@desnews.com
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