By DARREN MILLER
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Three things happened that let University of Iowa redshirt freshman Kat Moody know she was about to throw a personal best in the shot put Thursday.
First, the shot left her hand just right. Second, she stayed in the ring to save the throw. Third, she heard Iowa throws coach Eric Werskey let out a scream.
“I feel like I’m a big squawking bird,” Werskey said. “As a former thrower, you see that pop and the ball fly off the hand and neck and you feel it for them, too. I get pretty animated.”
The result was a mark of 54-feet, 7 ½-inches (16.65 meters) that held up for 12th at the NCAA West Preliminary at E.B. Cushing Stadium. Moody earned the final qualifying spot to the NCAA Championships on June 10 in Eugene, Oregon.
“I’m looking forward to the experience of competing against the best in the country,” Moody said. “To go as a freshman is pretty awesome.”
Moody said she is typically a slow starter in the throws ring, so there was urgency to perform well Thursday because of the three-throws/no final format. She opened with a 51-2 ¼ (15.60 meters), then hit the PR and followed with a 51-9 (15.77).
“I had to go in confident, feel what I have been feeling in practice and go all out,” Moody said. “I was up against some really competitive people and I was going to have to throw at least 16 (meters)-high to move on.”
Moody is a homegrown Iowan, graduating from Waukee High School in 2019 after winning two Class 4A state and one Drake Relays shot put titles. She spent most of her true freshman season at Iowa working on the spin technique and acclimating to the weight room.
“Now she is one of the strongest women I have ever seen,” Werskey said.
“I’m looking forward to the experience of competing against the best in the country. To go as a freshman is pretty awesome.”Kat Moody
Moody entered the NCAA West Preliminary seeded 27th with a career-best 53-5 ¾ (16.30) set May 1 at the Big Ten Invitational No. 4/Billy Hayes Invitational in Bloomington, Indiana. After her 35 centimeter PR on Thursday, she had to sit and wait as flights three and four took their tosses. Moody refused to look at their marks, instead, she enjoyed watching the competition. Many of the throwers she was familiar with from watching their videos.
Because of a conference decree, Iowa was not allowed to compete against non-Big Ten opponents this regular season, so for Moody, the West Preliminary was a refreshing look at new talent. Before the meet, Werskey jotted names on a piece of paper of the student-athletes he thought could advance to Eugene. Moody was on that list.
“We have been seeing those types of distances in practices and warm-ups,” Werskey said. “It was nice to see it come to fruition for her.”
Moody was Iowa’s icing on the shot put cake. Senior Laulauga Tausaga won the event with a throw of 58-11 ½ (17.97).
“With the throwers team, I always say there is strength in numbers,” Werskey said. “Lagi was expected to go and to have Kat go, it’s a familiar face when you’re at the national championships seeing the same uniform. There is something to be said about that when you’re in those high-pressure situations; you can rely on each other to keep motivated.”
Moody will compete in the discus Saturday, but she spent Thursday evening celebrating with Hawkeyes.