DES MOINES — Iowa discus thrower Laulauga Tausaga-Collins was in sixth place at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium on Thursday.
Her first throw went 191 feet, 5 inches. After that, she had two faults and two other throws that didn’t break 190 feet.
Sixth place was not where Tausaga-Collins wanted to be. She wasn’t throwing how she expected to throw.
She was visibly upset about it. Her face donned a snarl.
Her coach, Eric Wersky, says she throws best when she’s mad.
She stepped into the ring for her last throw and launched the disc. It looked like a good throw. Tausaga-Collins wasn’t convinced — her face still wore the snarl.
Then her distance appeared on the scoreboard. Her snarl turned to tears instantly as her hand covered her mouth in disbelief.
“Ususally when I have a decent last throw, it’s because something has worked in the previous five throws that shows I have the potential to do something,” Tausaga-Collins said. “It seems like when I’m the angriest I do the best, which is weird because I should just be doing it all the time.”
Her throw went 198-11 — a new PR and good enough for third place in an event that included two former Olympians — Gia Lewis-Smallwood and Whitney Ashley, who finished fourth and 10th, respectively.
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“I’ve had a decent season, but I didn’t hit the marks I wanted to hit,” Tausaga-Collins said. “I’ve been struggling and I told myself that this throw had to be the throw to end it all. I was just mad, I was angry. Even after the throw I was still kind of mad and angry because I didn’t know the distance. Then when I saw it on the board, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it — I cried, I had to cry.”
She ran over to the fence to hug Wersky and both of her parents, who made the trip from California.
“They made the trip all the way from California because I decided last minute that I wanted them here,” Tausaga-Collins said. “It took a little bit out of their pocket, but I appreciate it. I did something for them — they didn’t come all the way over here to see me fall out, they came here to see me throw and get third place.”
Tausaga-Collins finished fourth at the NCAA Championships two weeks ago with a throw of 183-11. Arizona State’s Maggie Ewen finished first at the NCAAs with a throw of 198-5 and Standford’s Valarie Allman finished third with a throw of 194-3.
On Thursday, Allman finished first with a throw of 208-6 and Ewen finished second with a throw of 200-6. For Tausaga-Collins, who just finished her sophomore season for the Hawkeyes, it means a lot to know she can compete with the best in college, and beat former Olympians.
“(Finishing third) was something else,” she said. “This whole year I’ve been trying to compete against the best girls in the NCAAs — and to come out here, they were first and second. To see that I can compete with Olympians and move up and challenge NCAA champions, it gives me a lot of hope for next year — for the next two years of my collegiate career and my post-graduate career.”
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