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By DARREN MILLER
DES MOINES, Iowa — It took two throws Friday for University of Iowa junior Laulauga Tausaga to earn her second Drake Relays championship flag, this one in discus, her secondary event.
Tausaga won the Drake Relays shot put title in 2018 with a throw of 54-feet, 11 ¼-inches. She added a second win in a second event Friday.
On her second attempt in the second flight, Tausaga’s toss of 168-feet, 1-inch qualified for finals. On her first throw in finals, she positioned herself nearly two feet in front of runner-up Chioma Onyeekwere with an effort of 187-5.
The distance held.
“It wasn’t one of my finest (performances),” Tausaga said. “It was difficult for me to start well. I finally found things clicking when it came to my fourth throw, which was the winning throw.”
It has been nearly a month’s worth of dominance from Tausaga, who has been named Big Ten Conference Field Athlete of the Week for three consecutive weeks. The most impressive stretch for the native of Spring Valley, California, came April 18-19 at the Mt. SAC Relays in Los Angeles and the Beach Invitational in Long Beach, California.
Tausaga set school records in the hammer throw (201-3), discus (204-4), and shot put (59-1 ½). Twice this season she has been named United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Athlete of the Week.
“It gives me confidence to say I can be one of the top girls in the country,” Tausaga said. “It is a talented field of people and it is a super competitive country. For me to be able to be up there with those girls gives me confidence.”
The women’s discus competition began at 1 p.m. (CT) on Friday; the women’s shot put began a 5:30. Tausaga is still learning the best way to transition quickly from one event to the other.
“As soon as one event is done, it has to be over and done with,” Tausaga said. “Even though it was a win (in the discus), I have to understand that I can’t take those feelings into my next competition.”
Unfortunately for Tausaga, her day didn’t end how she would have liked. North Dakota State freshman Akealy Moton threw 55-0 ¼ on her sixth and final throw to better runner-up Tausaga who threw 53-8 ¼.
“There is no loss, there is just a stumble and we have to get back up and keep running with it,” Tausaga said.
Tausaga goes after her second win of the 110th Annual Drake Relays on Saturday in the women’s hammer throw beginning at 9 a.m.
“You have to keep acting like you have something to prove,” Tausaga said. “You have to keep grinding and I have to make sure my teammates feel that energy, too. When they don’t feel that energy, I can’t feed off that. As a team, we need to feed off that energy together so we are able to put out our best marks and show what Iowa has.”