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By DARREN MILLER
DES MOINES, Iowa — Reno Tuufuli wanted to make a statement at the 110th Annual Drake Relays and it happened on his first attempt in the men’s discus.
Tuufuli, who won the event in 2017 with a throw of 194-feet, 8-inches, opened the competition Saturday with a winning toss of 193-2.
“I was hoping it would be the winner, but there are a lot of good guys out there,” Tuufuli said. “There was good wind, you never know.”
That distance held up by a foot over runner-up Charles Lenford, Jr., of Kentucky. Tuufuli also had successful attempts of 185-feet, 183-9, and 175-3.
It is the third Drake Relays title for Tuufuli who won the shot put a year ago with a throw of 60-8 ½. On Friday, Tuufuli threw 58-3 ¾ and did not make the finals.
“Yesterday was a bad day for me,” Tuufuli said.
But he quickly turned it into a positive.
“Instead of being negative afterward, I mentally fixed the things I needed to fix,” he said.
And he returned to Drake Stadium less than 24 hours later and produced the statement throw he sought. With 18 mile per hour wind and temperature in the mid-40s, Tuufuli wore layers of clothing and used hand warmers throughout the competition.
“It is like this every year at Drake, so I was preparing for it,” Tuufuli said. “It’s cold.”
Tuufuli’s first two Drake Relays Champion flags rested by the side of his television, then moved to a closet in his apartment.
“Now, with three, I will have to hang them up side-by-side,” he said.
A senior from Las Vegas, Tuufuli leaves the Drake Relays a winner for a final time as a collegian. He said he will miss the relays, calling it an amazing meet.
“Hopefully I can come back as a professional,” he said.
Tuufuli turns his attention to postseason, beginning with the Big Ten Championships that Iowa will host May 10-12. Last season Tuufuli was runner-up in the discus and sixth in the shot put. He went on to compete at the NCAA Preliminary Round and NCAA Championships.
“If I can throw 58 (meters) in bad weather and I didn’t catch a big throw (Saturday), it was my normal technique and just a decent throw,” Tuufuli said. “I’m looking forward to Big Tens and ready to put the work in before that.”
The title by Tuufuli makes it a Hawkeye sweep in the discus at the Drake Relays. On Friday in the women’s discus, Iowa junior Laulauga Tausaga had a winning throw of threw 187-5. (To read about Tausaga’s day, click HERE).