Feb. 6, 2012
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Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Thursday, July 28, 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 2011-12 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, Iowa — University of Iowa junior Majesty Tutson won a state championship in high school, it just didn’t come in her signature sport.
Tutson, a catalyst among throwers on the Hawkeye track and field team, played 17 minutes and scored four points with two steals during Iowa City High’s 48-46 Class 4A girls’ basketball victory against Cedar Rapids Washington in 2008. Two of Tutson’s teammates scored in double figures: Kelly Krei poured in 21 points with nine rebounds and three blocked shots, and Virginia Johnson added 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Krei and Johnson are members of the UI women’s basketball team.
“It kind of just happened,” Tutson said of staying close to home and becoming a Hawkeye thrower. “I was looking at a lot of different schools to try to play either track or basketball. I wanted to go Division I, and I really liked (UI throws) coach (Scott) Cappos’ teaching style. He worked with a couple people I knew, and I heard good things about him — he had produced some great athletes. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to work under someone who knew what he was doing, and learn a lot from him. It looked like a good situation.”
Tutson’s goal in her third year at Iowa is to turn track & field silver into gold. As a high school senior she was a state runner-up in the shot put (41-feet-9 ½) and discus (134-06); last season in the Big Ten Championships, she was second in the discus to Michigan State’s Beth Rohl with a school-record toss of 172-3. Three times during high school, her team finished second at the state meet.
“I want a Big Ten title, and I would love to make it to nationals,” Tutson said. “I went to regionals my freshman year and sophomore year, but struck out. I feel this is my year, and that’s what I’m working toward.”
Tutson competes in all five throwing events — discus, shot put, weight throw, javelin and hammer throw; she favors discus. Tutson credits her long limbs for allowing a favorable “whip” of the disc, which leads to further distances. But the discus is contested only during the outdoor season. When Tutson is throwing under a roof, she favors the weight throw.
“I like competing; I’m a very competitive person,” Tutson said. “Just being out there doing any event is fun. I have a love for each event, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. They all drive me.”
Just as track has different types of runners in sprints, middle distance and distance, each throwing event has its own distinctive identity and technique.
“It’s pretty hard to adjust to all five events,” Tutson said. “Nothing is the same. You go from glide to spins to the triple spin. It’s actually pretty hard with each one of them.”
Tutson opened the 2012 season with a third-place effort in the shot put (43-10 ½) at the New Year’s Classic on Jan. 14 in the UI Recreation Building. She followed that with a third-place showing in the weight throw (57-2 ¾) at the adidas Classic on Jan. 21 in Lincoln, Neb. Tutson was eighth in the shot put (42-0 ¾). On Feb. 4 at the New Balance Invitational in New York City, she placed 20th in the weight throw with a toss of 56-4 ½.
“When Majesty arrived on campus she was a good high school thrower,” Cappos said. “She has improved about 40 feet in the discus since she has come to the University of Iowa. She went from being a good high school thrower in the state of Iowa to one of the more elite throwers in the Big Ten. She has improved all her throwing events significantly since she started here.”
Her weight throw of 58-4 at the Iowa State Classic last February set a school record and now ranks second all-time in Hawkeye history. A career highlight came last May when she placed second at Big Ten Conference Championships with a school-record discus toss of 172-4. That moment was a testament to her psychological growth during her time as a Hawkeye.
“I was really nervous and what helped me was my mental toughness,” Tutson said. “I had been working on that since my freshman year. I had a lot of little knick knacks mentally when I came here, and I’ve been working on that.
“One thing that really helped was something my mom (LaVerne) taught me when I was growing up. She would tell us that David encouraged himself in the Lord. That popped into my head and I kept saying it over and over.”
So instead of entering the throwing cage with a dark cloud of “I can’t” hanging over her head, Tutson boldly strutted in with an attitude of “I will and I will now.”
“I kept myself encouraged no matter what happened,” Tutson said. “You have to keep thinking that this is the time; this is now. That was my biggest memory so far.”
Tutson graduated from high school in 2009, a month after winning the high school discus at the Drake Relays. She was a three-year letterwinner on the basketball court, was a member of a non-school-affiliated traveling volleyball team, and participated in show choir.
Her area of academic interest is therapeutic recreation, where Tutson is working toward a physical therapy program in graduate school. But there will be a lot more throws before she pursues a master’s degree. Tutson embraces a sport that’s competitive period stretches from January to June, because the longer the season, the more success you have attained.
“It drives you more when you’re still competing in June, because you’ve made it to nationals,” Tutson said. “You have to have it within yourself to keep going, to keep pushing, to keep moving, to keep driving.”
Cappos says the 2012 season could extend into late June and the first day of July…at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.
“Majesty still has a lot of room to grow as an athlete,” he said. “She needs to go above and beyond to keep moving forward at the Big Ten level. She needs to get to the national level and achieve at a high level there — try to be an All-American. If she continues to improve, there’s a chance she could be competing in the Olympic Trials.”