5 Years Old and All Grown Up

May 3, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Too young to travel, but old enough to be left home alone. That’s where Ashlyn Gulvas and Jasmine Simpson found themselves in 2010.

Then rookies on the University of Iowa track and field team, Gulvas and Simpson were part of a recruiting class that came to campus to reinvigorate what had become a dormant women’s throws program.

There were no returning throwers from the 2009 season. Not a single example to learn from. Not a single PR to chase.

“When we first came in, it was just us,” said Simpson. “We got together and looked at each other like, ‘OK, we’re the women throwers. Here we go.'”

Here we go, sort of. In cases of the blind leading the blind, it is a good idea to limit movement, so when the team would leave town for competition, the rookies said their farewells and stayed at home.

“Majesty (Tutson) was the only freshman that competed,” said Gulvas. “She would be leaving with the team and Jasmine and I would just hang out in our dorm. We didn’t know what was going on.”

Fast forward five years. Gulvas is the school record-holder in the weight throw. Simpson ranks No. 2 in both the weight and hammer, and three of their teammates — Rachel Curry, Courtney Fritz, and Amanda Stahle — who were also rookies in the 2010 “foundation” class, have their names sprinkled throughout the Iowa record book.

The women’s throws program has been revived and it continues to get healthier, something both Simpson and Gulvas say they’re “absolutely” proud of.

“I feel like we’ve accomplished a ton since we’ve been here,” said Gulvas. “I’m a school record-holder. Jasmine was a school record-holder. (Junior) Annemie (Smith) is now a school record-holder, and Majesty is a school record-holder. We have all scored points at the Big Ten Championships, and that’s the ultimate goal.”

“I’m excited that when we leave, there are going to be people left here,” said Simpson, “and they’re going to be people that we’ve been throwing with for either a couple years, or they’re new, but they got to know us.”

Iowa’s senior class set a new standard, but Simpson says she’ll be rooting for that standard to rise and eventually push her name further down the record book.

“There will be a sense of pride when our records fall,” said Simpson. “We laid the foundation and it’s like ‘OK, go ahead and break the record’, because they are solid records and if people are breaking them it means the program is growing and getting better.”

Gulvas and Simpson have three more opportunities to stamp their history on the program, starting Saturday at Musco Twilight XV in what will be their final home appearance.

“We’re getting down to the end of the season, so it’s getting really sad,” said Gulvas. “We’ve talked about it before and I know it will be hard, especially because hammer is something we’ll never do again, ever.”

“Musco is going to mean a lot,” said Simpson. “I’ve learned a lot of about myself at Iowa, and I’ve had some breakthroughs since I’ve been here. Ashlyn has been my rock. We’re best buds and when I hit a PR she’s the first one to give me a hug. We push each other to be better. We’re hugging each other while one of us is beating the other.”

The 15th annual Musco Twilight Meet is Saturday at the Frances X. Cretzmeyer Track. Field events start at 1 p.m. (CT). A senior recognition ceremony begins at 4:45 p.m.