24: Maier is one of many talented UI field performers

Sept. 10, 2007

Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Thursday, Aug. 2, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2007-08 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.

IOWA CITY — Shane Maier’s athletic achievements tend to get lost in the shuffle, not unlike the visibility — or lack thereof — of field event throwers at track and field meets. Maier shouldn’t lack for visibility since he is an imposing presence at 6-foot-3 and just a shade less than 300 pounds. But when the competitive track and field season commences, Maier and the other field event folk end up participating in relative obscurity as races on the track engulf most of the attention.

A majority of track and field fans can rattle off an impressive 400-meter split before they can convert a hammer throw distance from metric to English. So it might come as a mild surprise to many that Maier is silently creeping up the University of Iowa performance lists as one of the finest shot putters and discus throwers in school history. A year ago, as the Hawkeyes were en route to a seventh-place showing in the Big Ten indoor track and field championships, Maier heaved the shot 60-feet-11 ¼-inches on his final attempt to earn the individual title and provisionally qualify for the NCAA championship. He was fourth at the Big Ten outdoor meet in the shot put (57-3 ¾) and runner-up at the Midwest Regional (58-6 ½). Teammate John Hickey gave the Hawkeyes a clean sweep of the league shot put champions by capturing the outdoor title with a throw of 58-4 ½.

“We battle back and forth every meet,” Maier said of the friendly rivalry with Hickey. “John and I push each other to throw harder every time. That makes it that much harder for opponents to catch us.”

Maier and Hickey both return for the Hawkeyes this season. Maier is a senior from Storm Lake, Iowa, and Hickey is a junior from Piermont, N.Y. In high school, Maier won two state and two Drake Relays championships in the shot put. He familiarized himself with the UI program by attending Hawkeye track and field camp for three consecutive years.

Corralling the top throwing talent in the state of Iowa is nothing new for the Hawkeyes. Starmont graduate Andy Banse was the team MVP in 2005 and competed in the shot put and discus. Brad Daufeldt of West Liberty was an all-Big Ten performer in the discus and hammer throw.

“I liked how Coach (Scott) Cappos instructed his athletes,” Maier said. “He is a real nice easy-going guy who knows what he’s doing and has a good program going. It was a good atmosphere at Iowa and when I came on my visit, I was hooked.”

“I liked how Coach (Scott) Cappos instructed his athletes. He is a real nice easy-going guy who knows what he’s doing and has a good program going. It was a good atmosphere at Iowa and when I came on my visit, I was hooked.”
Shane Maier, UI throws specialist

Cappos enters his 12th season as an assistant coach at Iowa, specializing in developing field event performers. Larry Wieczorek begins his 12th season as head men’s track and field coach for the Hawkeyes. This will be his 21st season as head men’s cross country coach.

“Shane is probably the strongest guy on campus, regardless of sport,” Cappos said. “His work ethic really drives his success. He’s a great leader. Shane, John and (junior) A.J. Curtis all push each other and feed off each other. That makes for a great group atmosphere and takes the program to a higher level.”

A meniscus tear in his knee slowed Maier a bit last season, but he said that he is “all healed up and training hard.” The Big Ten indoor championship last season is just one of his many highlights. A national qualifier at the 2006 and 2007 NCAA outdoor championships in the shot put, he is also proud of ninth-place performance at nationals as a sophomore (61-9 ¾). Last season he tied for 19th with a toss of 57-3 ½.

“It took about four months for Shane to fully recover from the injury,” Cappos aid. “That was very courageous what he was able to do during the outdoor season.”

As a sophomore, Maier threw 61-2 in the indoor shot put, elevating him to second on the school’s all-time list behind Jeremy Allen (62-10 ½). He placed third that season at the indoor Big Ten championship (58-10 ¾) and at the outdoor conference meet finished runner-up in the shot put (62-2 ¼) and seventh in the discus (163-2). His effort in the outdoor shot put is the third-best distance in UI history (behind Allen, 63-2 ¾ and Ken Kemeny, 62-3). Maier was named all-Midwest Region after placing fifth with a throw of 61-9 ¾. As Maier demonstrates, there is more to being a successful thrower than just having a beefy frame.

“Strength is a key,” Maier said. “But you also need speed, quickness and you have to be a technician of your specific event. Strength and speed can only take you so far. That’s why you have to practice every day — it’s repetition, repetition, repetition.”

Maier received a bachelor’s degree in health and sport studies in July. He has reapplied to start work on a degree in interdepartmental studies with an emphasis on eventually becoming a health coach. But after college, Maier said he will not be ready to toss his implements in the closet.

“I’m going to the Olympic Trials and my goal is to hopefully make it to the Olympic team,” he said. “When my competitive career is over I might look into becoming a strength and conditioning coach or maybe a competitive weightlifter.”

Last season the Hawkeyes placed seventh at both the Big Ten indoor (46 ½ points) and outdoor (74 ½) championships. Not only has the UI rounded up another stellar crop of first-year throwers, but the depth and quality of the team has improved across the board, according to Maier.

“We’re making a big turnaround,” Maier said. “We have a solid track and field program and I think we can pull a top five (placing) at indoor conference and top three in outdoor. We have some good returners back and we have more quality coming in.”

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