Iowa throwers on the rise

Drake Relays: Reno Tuufuli takes second in shot put

DES MOINES — Andrew Dubs came into the mixed media room at Drake Stadium completely soaked.

It had been raining all day, making life complicated for the Iowa assistant coach. Dubs coaches field events, specifically throwing, and if there’s one thing made more difficult by an abundance of water falling from the sky, it’s tossing an object down the field.

Even so, he had to be around for Friday morning’s javelin throw at the Drake Relays — which, conveniently, was held at the same time Iowa signee and Mount Vernon prep Tristan Wirfs finished his sweep of the shot and discus— as well as the men’s shot and the women’s discus.

Despite the long day, however, he was in a good mood. Reno Tuufuli had finished second in the men’s shot to Alex Renner, one of the best shot putters in the nation.

“Nothing has set us apart yet,” Dubs said. “It’s been a process. It’s been long. I’ve had to be patient throughout. But it’s starting to come to fruition.”

On this rainy day, the second-place shot was the highlight. Tuufuli’s toss came on his last throw of the day, bumping him from third up to second.

It was a good moment, one that came in adverse conditions — Tuufuli said he couldn’t feel his hands at one point — and is something to build from. It’s also obvious Dubs has his ear.

“I’ve become more patient,” Tuufuli said. “Trying to remember everything I’ve learned has become easier, it’s easier to trust my technique and feel my body out.”

Unsurprisingly, being technically sound is a mainstay of Dubs’ coaching philosophy. Throwing involves a number of different physical movements going on all at once and it’s a challenge to put them all together.

Athletes spend hours working on minute details to help eek a few extra meters out of their throws.

“If you can’t set up a throw, you’re going to be in trouble when you get to the front of the ring,” Dubs said. “But it’s like this, it’s about keeping them positive and confident and once they do figure things out, it’s really going to take off.”

Inclusion is key as well and it’s important to him to have his throwers work together. He says the older athletes have been invaluable in the development of the younger ones. He immediately brought up senior thrower Avery Meyers, who is a very technically sound thrower and seems to have worked with Tuufuli quite a bit.

The chemistry is obvious and the altogether positive vibe is something that lends itself to long-term success. It’s also the type of thing that helps athletes get over disappointing performances.

Hawkeye thrower Laulauga Tausaga finished sixth with a 46.68-meter throw in the women’s discus, an event the freshman has owned all year.

Tausaga threw the 10th-best mark in the nation at the Florida Relays a month ago and performed well during a windy Musco Twilight meet last weekend. It was pouring at the Relays the hardest it did all day during the discus competition and while the result wasn’t what she was looking for, the fact her best throw was her last should be at least a small comfort.

Saturday, Tuufuli and Meyers will get to throw in their best event — the discus — while Tausaga and Nia Britt will have a chance in the shot put. It’s just another day to build. Another day of the process.

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