Not only is the throws group one of the smallest units on the track and field team with ten members, they may also be the most uncertain group among the Sooners. The uncertainty is due to an adjustment period related to inexperience as well as a new coach.
With one true freshman, four coming off a redshirt year, two seniors, one redshirt senior, one redshirt junior and one junior, the challenge will be getting them repetitions and competition on the collegiate level as well as getting used to a different coaching and training style.
Leading the group in their endeavors is first-year assistant coach Colin Boevers, who returned to the University of Oklahoma after serving as a volunteer throws coach in the 2013-14 season.
“Since arriving in July, I have been pleased with the dedication and work ethic of our entire throws group,” states Boevers. “From day one, the athletes have been asking questions and diving head first into their new training which has been crucial. Each one of them had a tremendous training base already, so initially my goal was to add to that. We have taken a lot of repetitions, both in throwing and in the weight room. These athletes have done well adjusting to change and trusting their coaching which has paid dividends in training.”
Though he has only had a short period with the group for coaching and evaluation, Boevers has been encouraged by the progress and attitude he has seen so far.
“Throughout the fall, we have spent numerous hours on perfecting technique and gaining specific strength,” explains Boevers. “Along with the physical aspect of fall training, we have spent a lot of time working on the psychological aspect of training. During the fall, training can become tedious and mundane so I have really tried to be creative and energetic and the group has responded well. Mentally and physically, the athletes are in the best shape of their careers so we are excited to see what this season has in store.”
The new coach did get an opportunity to see his group in live action with the recent team pentathlon. While it didn’t count for anything more than pride and bragging rights, he was able to see the competitive spirit of the team and just how great they can become.
“The greatest highlight for me, as a coach, was during the team pentathlon. It was one of the only times during the fall where the athletes can let their competitive juices flow and really get after it. Many of the throwers had lifetime bests in individual events and their overall scores. It was really fun to see their hard work pay off.”
And with the start of the season a mere week away, it has only fueled the excitement levels and expectations for when the results really count.
“As we quickly approach our first competition, I am looking forward to watching these athletes compete” he adds. “Competition brings out different things in different people that the coaches may not have seen during fall training. Since this is the first season, I haven't seen many of these athletes compete. I really want to see a tenacious, competitive attitude and a will to win. We will be training through the first few meets in an effort to stay in shape later in the season when we pull back on the training a bit. This is what these young people have been working so hard all fall for. It doesn’t get any better than stepping into the ring wearing the OU jersey and going to battle!”
As mentioned earlier, the throws group will have a significant number of "newcomers" who have yet to compete in an OU jersey. According to Boevers, though, this group is ready to make a big splash and to make an immediate impact in a multitude of events. Among those impact athletes are redshirt freshmen Meia Gordon, Camille Burge, Gabby Kearney and Sierra Sheen and true freshman Bradley Daboub.
“Camille originally came to Norman as a high jumper and made the transition to the hammer and weight throw this year,” explains Boevers. “She is physically one of the best athletes on the team and she is starting to understand her new events. Even though this is her first year ever to throw the hammer and weight, I believe she will be in scoring contention in her first year.
“Sierra will be making her debut in an OU jersey this year in the discus. She redshirted last year and came into this fall on a mission. She has probably progressed more than anyone else in the group from the first day of practice until the last fall practice before break. In the ring and in the weight room, she has put in work all fall to be sure she is in the Big 12 mix come outdoor season.”
After injuring herself in last year’s team pentathlon and taking a medical redshirt, “Gabby will be throwing javelin for our team for the first time this year,” Boevers continues. “She is a seasoned javelin thrower and has worked really hard this fall. Gabby is in great shape and looks to be a fantastic competitor. I am really looking forward to her first collegiate season this year.
“Meia will be making her debut this year as well. She has worked very hard this year and made some significant technical changes that will put her in a great spot. Meia will be making an impact on the Big 12 and national level for many years to come.”
The lone freshman in the group is Daboub, but his rookie status isn’t holding Boevers back from speculating what kind of season and career he is capable of having.“Bradley is our only true freshman on the men's team this year. He came on strong to finish his senior high school season and carried that momentum into the fall. Bradley is a great example of a young man who pays attention to detail. If he can channel that the right way, it will bode very well for his career at OU. We believe he will make an impact as a freshman.”
“Part of the reason our freshman and sophomore student-athletes had really good training this fall was our fantastic group of veterans who are returned this year,” Boevers praised. “The upperclass men and women throwers have done a good job of setting a standard of excellence in training. Each and every one of them has worked tirelessly during the fall to put themselves in the best possible position to be on the podium this year. Jess, Ashley, Jenny, Charles, and T.J. will all be names you should see on a podium this year. They are all out to beat a lot of people this year and score a lot of points for our team. I am proud of this group and how they have set an example of excellence and bought in under a new coach and training environment.”
With the mix of reliable and proven veterans like Woodard, Bryant, Nguyen and Noonan combined with the tenacity and competitive drive of the newcomers, the throws group may not only become regulars on the podium this season but for years to come.