Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa – There isn’t a more frustrating finish in track and field than ninth, one spot from placing in the conference championship.
University of Iowa senior Avery Meyers had ninth-place finishes in the shot put at both the Big Ten Indoor and Outdoor Championships a year ago. But after his record-setting start in the season opener, Meyers is thinking beyond the lower level of an award’s podium.
Meyers won the shot put with a meet record and career-best of 18.33 meters (60-feet-1 ¾) at the Border Battle on Jan. 7 inside the University of Iowa Recreation Building. His mark ranks seventh all-time in program history and five of his throws were 17.63 meters or further. He fouled on a monster toss in round three.
“It felt like a long time coming,” Meyers said. “We put in a lot of hard work last year and made a lot of changes. We worked on critical things, but I could never line them up in a meet. We continued to work in the fall and I was lucky enough to be able to line them up (Saturday). Hopefully we can continue to do that moving forward.”
The previous PR for Meyers was 17.99 meters (59-0 ¼) at the Razorback Invitational last January, where ironically, he placed eighth by two centimeters (17.97).
Iowa throws coach Andrew Dubs knew Meyers’ offseason training was going well. He excelled in the weight room and his technique was improving. But to surpass 60 feet in the first meet?
“I didn’t think he would quite be in 60-foot shape yet,” Dubs said. “I thought he could go in the mid-to-high 18-meter range at some point in the season, but I didn’t think he would open up at 18.33.”
At the 2016 Big Ten Indoor Championships, Hawkeye sophomore Reno Tuufuli threw 18.51 meters (60-8 ¾) and placed fifth. Eighth place was 17.91 meters (58-9 ¼); Meyers threw 17.71 (58-1 ¼).
Eighth place at the 2016 Big Ten Outdoor Championships was 17.71 meters (58-1 ¼); Meyers threw 17.51 (57-5 ½).
“It has been my goal since I came to Iowa to score at the Big Ten meet and that is still the goal,” Meyers said. “Last year I thought I could squeak out seventh or eighth, but having an 18.33 this early…my goal has shifted toward getting up there and making noise in the top five.”
It is obviously early in the indoor season, but Meyers’ performance Saturday is third-best in the Big Ten behind Indiana sophomores Willie Morrison (19.47, 63-10 ½) and David Schall (18.41, 60-5).
Meyers was Class 2A state champion in the shot put for West Liberty (Iowa) High School in 2012. He stayed close to home with his choice of college.
“I knew it would take time because I wasn’t the most heralded guy coming out of high school and into the big pond that is the Big Ten,” Meyers said. “There were ups and downs, but to come out and have throws like that is relieving. You feel the work is paying off and it fuels the fire for the rest of the season.”
Meyers will be comfortable in the throws ring all January since Iowa’s first four meets are at home.
“The facility is awesome,” Meyers said. “Going every direction across the country every weekend is exciting, but it can also wear on you. It might seem a little like Groundhog Day because we have four of the same weeks over and over again. But it should set us up to compete at a high level.”
Meyers is one of 40 native Iowans in the Hawkeye track and field program.
“There is great talent in the state of Iowa,” Dubs said. “Our goal is to always recruit and bring in the best Iowa has to offer.”
The Hawkeyes return to action Jan. 14 with the Hawkeye Challenge beginning at 9:30 a.m. (CT) in the Recreation Building.